2. Types of proceedings
Apart from ordinary proceedings, there are several types of fast-track proceedings and alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Compared to ordinary proceedings (i.e., court litigation), they are less expensive and less formal.
(1) Demand for payment (shiharai-tokusoku)
If you’re owed money from a person or business (e.g., loan, proceeds, fee, wage, remuneration, rent), you can request the summary court to make an official demand to your opponent without a hearing. If they ignore the demand, you can further apply to a court to enforce the debt against their assets (e.g., seizing their bank account). However, if the debtor objects to the demand, the case automatically goes to the district court, and ordinary proceedings start.
Demand for payment is useful if the debtor is unlikely to dispute the debt itself.
(2) Small claims
If you have a monetary claim, whether debt or damages, of ¥600,000 or less, you can use small claims proceedings at a summary court. The judge generally gives a judgment immediately after the first oral hearing. The opponent can object to small claims proceedings so that the case will be sent to ordinary proceedings.
Small claims are often used by those who represent themselves (i.e., without hiring a lawyer).
(3) Conciliation (chotei)
Conciliation is when an independent and impartial third party discusses a problem with you and your opponent to try and find a solution. It is similar to mediation (assen), but conciliation is more systematized and more common in Japan. There are civil conciliation, family conciliation, and conciliation within a labor tribunal. A conciliation settlement is enforceable (i.e. it is equivalent to a judgment).
(4) Other proceedings
There are other proceedings including:
• Labour tribunal
• Family tribunal
• Mediation at individual prefectural Labour Bureaus
• Dispute resolution center at individual bar associations
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this article is accurate at the time of posting, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ. If you do require advice or wish to find out more about the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.