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How to Sue Someone in Japan (part 3)

3. Court procedures

Below is the explanation about ordinary proceedings. However, other court proceedings have more or less the same features.

(1) Statement of claim

You start proceedings by handing in or sending a statement of claim that states all facts necessary for establishing the legal basis of your claim together with evidence to the appropriate court office.

(2) Defence

After checking the formality, the court will send the statement of claim to the opponent (i.e., defendant). The defendant must submit a defense generally within one week before the first hearing date.

(3) Hearings

a. The first hearing
The defendant is not obliged to appear on a date for the first hearing as long as a defense is filed by that date. However, if a defense is not filed and the defendant does not appear, the court will likely give you a winning judgment.

b. Subsequent hearings
After the first oral hearing, the court generally holds preparatory proceedings to identify the issues and evidence. The parties (i.e., you and the opponent) will exchange briefs and evidence for preparing for hearings. These hearings a s are typically held once every 4 to 6 weeks until the parties have exhausted arguments.

c. Publicity
Oral hearings are held in a courtroom, which is open to the public. Preparatory proceedings, where substantial discussions are often conducted, are held in a meeting room or via web/phone conference, which is closed to the public.

d. Court mediated settlement
Before a case proceeds to the stage of a witness examination, the judge generally attempts to mediate a settlement between the parties. In Japan, most disputes are settled before a judgment is given.

(4) Examination of witnesses

Once the parties exhausted arguments, the court will call witnesses to give oral evidence. After third-party witnesses are examined, the parties will usually be examined. If oral evidence is given in a foreign language, Japanese interpretation must be arranged. The court keeps the list of candidates for 60+ languages.

(5) Judgment

Once the examination of witnesses is completed, the hearings will be closed. Then, the judge will give the judgment within two months from the closing date. Judges generally attempt to conclude the first instance proceedings within two years.


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.

Text by: Atty. Atsushi Miyake of Miyake Law, October 2021.
Read more original and informative articles here.

Fukuoka Prefecture
Published: Oct 5, 2021 / Last Updated: Oct 5, 2021

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