Legal action is always something to think about, and filing a lawsuit in Costa Rica is a delicate matter. They must be exact. I am Christopher Pirie, and I specialize as a civil procedure attorney, and practice in San José, and Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The Civil Procedure Code regulates civil suits in Costa Rica. This type of litigation, called “civil litigation,” falls under a branch of the law called “Procedure Law.” I got my Ph.D. in this study area: as a procedure litigation lawyer. Having said this, you may find yourself in a situation where you may have to file a civil law suit against someone. If that´s the case, you must have many questions regarding how best to proceed
If you wish to file a lawsuit, the first thing to consider is that type. As an attorney, this is the first thing to clear up. What kind of legal action will you exercise? Will it be a family lawsuit? Perhaps a civil one? Costa Rica has different subject matter jurisdictions, so establishing this is important.
A lawsuit is an act in which the plaintiff initiates a judicial process with a specific legal claim against someone else. The lawsuit is the exercise of a legal action. For example, a civil lawsuit is a claim due to a civil law violation, and a family law suit is a claim due to a breach of family law. The same would be for a labor lawsuit, and so on. When you file a lawsuit, you exercise the power and the right to the legal action. The lawsuit forces the State apparatus, and a judicial process is initiated. A Judge with jurisdiction will resolve the legal dispute.
The Civil Procedures Code regulates the different judicial processes for litigation. When discussing civil procedures, the code regulates the various lawsuits and legal actions available for civil, commercial, and corporate jurisdictions. As you can see, even though “Civil” is incorporated in the law´s name, its use goes way beyond civil cases. For example, all family related rights and obligations, are established in the Family Code of Costa Rica. However, all family lawsuits and claims that spring from a violation to the Family Code, are processed by the trials established by the Civil Procedures Code. Likewise, all of the other different jurisdictions have laws that regulate different rights and obligations for each one. For example, all rights and obligations related to commercial law are established in the Commerce Code. However, it is the Civil Procedures Code that regulates the procedures to resolve commercial disputes.
No. All civil legal actions in Costa Rica are exercised through a formal private lawsuit. However, this is not the case in other branches of the law, like the penal branch. A criminal legal action may commence as a public action, with knowledge of a “notitia criminis” or “news of a crime.” However, a formal lawsuit is required for the process to initiate civil cases. There is no process without the law suit; the plaintiff´s initiative is necessary to start the civil proceedings.
Your attorney will draft the law suit in Spanish for you, and you’ll need to sign it. This is where bilingual communication is critical. Your lawyer must understand you perfectly so there are no mistakes. Once you sign the civil suit, your attorney must authenticate your signature. This will make him the legal director of your civil case. If you can´t sign and wish to relinquish the process to your lawyer, you can give him a special judicial power of attorney to represent you.
All civil suits have more or less the same legal requirements:
I filed my first civil legal action law suit back in the year 2000. It was just a few months after my bar incorporation. Back then, civil legal actions were prosecuted entirely in written form. The physical presence of the Judge was the exception! With the new Civil Procedure Code, everything has changed. The written form has become the exception.
Your lawyer requires excellent oral skills to perform well in civil litigation. Oral hearings are now the rule, even though the written form is still essential for specific acts. You should know, that I am a significantly experienced civil trial lawyer with excellent verbal skills to represent you on any civil matter.
Yes. When you file a lawsuit in Costa Rica, you initiate a civil process. The civil process type, will depend on your civil claim. There are four types of civil procedures in Costa Rica:
The ordinary civil litigation process is a residual one. If your claim does not have a specific process, it must be filed in an ordinary process. This process represents quintessential civil litigation in Costa Rica. It´s a declarative process.
Yes. This type of specific process accepts the possibility of a counter-lawsuit. If you are the defendant, you can counter-file. You must do this when you contest the law suit.
Yes. There are two oral hearings in this type of civil procedure. The first one is a preliminary hearing. The second one is the case trial itself. In this second hearing, all the evidence is evacuated. Attorneys later render their closing arguments, and the Judge retires to deliberate before sentencing.
The Civil Procedure Code enumerates several processes for type-specific claims. So when you file a lawsuit in Costa Rica, it will vary depending on your situation. We already covered the Ordinary Lawsuit, which initiates the Ordinary Process. However, other civil actions are available in the Civil Procedure Code. These are:
This is the Summary civil process. File a lawsuit for rental evictions and rent price adjustments. Injunctions and other civil litigation lawsuits.
File a lawsuit in the monitory process for debt collection spawning from executive titles, and for rental evictions due to nonpayment compliance.
You can file a lawsuit like this to initiate civil litigation called a “pure execution.” Mortgages, liens, and final resolutions are “executed” through this law suit.