Beginners guide to file a civil suit in Bangladesh
Aiman R. Khan:
To seek redress in the court of law, the party concerned needs to present a case. A case can be of two forms: Civil and Criminal. I believe watching episodes of Crime Patrol, even a child would by now get the idea of a criminal case. But civil cases are those involving matters related to private disputes among parties. The issues being mostly breach of contracts, trust, interests in property or those which can be resolved by monetary compensation.
Let’s start with you having a claim that your friend owes you a share in a property but now he is denying it. In order to take a legal action, you need to bring your claim to the court in the form of a case. There are established norms of how a case can be presented in front of the court in both civil and criminal matters.
Both the forms of cases have different methods of presentation. Since your situation is of a civil nature, I will try to give you the most basic idea of civil cases (hereinafter suits) and how can you present them in the court. All of these are contained in the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.
When you have a civil claim and go to the court, you become the plaintiff. The one against whom are you filing the suit will be the defendant. Before filing a suit, you have to be sure about 3 things: the location of your claim (For Territorial Jurisdiction), the monetary value of the claim (For Pecuniary Jurisdiction) and the subject matter of your claim.
There are different levels of civil courts depending on the valuation of cases. The value of your claim depends on which court you will proceed towards. Also, according to s.20 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 (hereinafter CPC), you have to file your suit in that court under whose jurisdiction your claim arose. For example, your claim is getting back your share of an apartment in Dhaka. You have to bring a claim in the civil court of Dhaka. However, if there is a bar on both of these grounds, you can take your claim to the court in the area where your subject matter is located. (s.16 of CPC)
Once you get past this step, you are welcomed to commence the overall process. I will mention each of the steps with simple words, on the following.
Step 1: Institution of Suit
Here you prepare your ‘plaint’ by the help of your lawyer. A civil suit starts with the presentation of plaint. Once you submit this compiled document or plaint, you get a number. This confirms that your suit has been filed.
Step 2: Issuance of Summons
Summons means the notice sent by the server to the defendant to appear before the court. Receiving the summons would mean that the defendant is now bound to submit a ‘Written Statement’ before the court within 30 days.
Step 3: Written Statement by the Defendant.
The Written Statement (W.S.) is a document which would contain all the important papers of the defendant. The main feature of W.S. is that the defendant would deny all the claims made against him by the plaintiff.
Step 4: Discovery and Inspection
If you, the plaintiff or your opposite party failed to include any document or want to add new ones, an opportunity to do so is given at this stage. Although, upon the permission of the court, documents can be produced at any stage of the suit.
Step 5: Framing of Issue
In this stage, the court will form the issue that has arisen from your claim and that of the defendant’s.
Step 6: Peremptory Hearing
It is the most important stage where you will get to speak and establish your claim, the defendant will speak, so will the witnesses from both of your sides. A lot of events take place in this stage, the examination in chief, cross examination, submission of evidences etc. If any of you need more time, the court will give it. The law allows you to ask for time extension 6 times without any costs. This explains the delay of almost all civil cases in the courts.
Step 7: Arguments
An oral argument based on the materials of your statements between your lawyer and the defendant’s would further establish your claim.
Step 8: Judgment
In this stage, the judge would write his decision in a concise manner. It consists of the outcome of the case, whether it has been decided in your favour or the defendant’s.
Step 9: Decree
Decree is the final order after analysing the entire case. Here the Judge would finally tell you whether you’ll get what you claimed or not. The remedies that the court usually gives are specific performance, specific relief or injunctive relief.
Decree marks the end of the suit.
Step 10: Execution of Decree
The final step to be taken before you say goodbye to the court is to get the decree carried out. Executing a Decree means carrying out a Decree.
According to Oxford Dictionary Execution is the enforcement of the decree and orders by the process of court, so as to enable the decree holder to recover the fruits of the judgement.
Civil litigation differ from Criminal cases since in the former, the judge orders a specific performance instead of criminal sanctions. Most of the time, civil cases take the longest to be settled due to the stages mentioned above.
Writer is an Advocate at Dhaka Judge Court