The new Code of Civil Contentious Procedure entered into
force on July 1 2016. It aims to speed up the litigation
process. Previously, cases would often drag on for several
years because the parties to the dispute had submitted their
allegations and offered evidence to the court in small bits at
a time. This may have been for tactical reasons, or because the
facts and evidence did not arise all at once.
The new Code introduces considerable changes. The court can
now set a deadline by which the parties must, under the threat
of a penalty, submit all of the allegations and offer evidence.
The court may disregard a party's means of procedural challenge
or defence if it is not submitted on a timely basis.
The new code encourages the parties to submit all of the
allegations and evidence at the start of proceedings. If they
do not, the court may not take them into consideration and may
decide against the non-complying party.
Another major change is that allegations are considered
uncontested until the other party denies them and submits their
own allegations. If the party simply casts doubt on or rejects
the allegations without submitting their own allegations, the
denial will be ineffective and the other party's allegations
will be deemed uncontested.
A new development aimed at speeding up the litigation
process is the introduction of preliminary hearings. The court
will usually order these before the first hearing.
At the preliminary hearing, the court will determine which
allegations are disputed, which it considers uncontested, and
what evidence will and will not be executed. The court will
also give its preliminary assessment of the matter and the
expected date of the hearing. This is a significant procedural
advance. Although the court could give a preliminary opinion
under the former legislation, it was not obliged to do so. Even
if a party asked a judge what their opinion was, judges
generally would not respond by giving their preliminary
In fact, the court may issue a decision in the case at the
preliminary hearing stage. The implications of this new concept
are emphasised by the fact that if one of the parties fails to
appear at the preliminary hearing, the court may issue a
default judgment against the absent party. A default judgment
for failure to appear may also be entered against the claimant.
According to the previous litigation rules, it was not possible
to issue a default judgment against the claimant.
The court may reject and even penalise procedural actions
that are manifestly aimed at the unfounded lengthening of a
case. If a hearing is postponed on the application of a party
and subsequently the court determines that the reasons set out
in the application have not been demonstrated, or are deemed
unimportant, the court may disregard any further applications
The new legislation also makes it more difficult to drag out
disputes for health reasons. Now, if a hearing is postponed for
poor health, the party or their counsel can be "justly"
required to authorise another person or another counsel to
stand in for them at the hearing.
Radka Sláviková Geržová and