A New Code of Civil Procedure was implemented in Costa Rica
If you ask any litigation Attorney in Costa Rica about litigation in the civil court system it is highly likely that they will tell you that the system is extremely slow. Litigation of many civil issues could take years to conclude.
Part of the delay is the fact that the Code of Civil Procedure required all documents to be filed in writing and then the Judge could only reply back to the litigants in writing as well. Then the amount of avenues to appeal mundane rulings was open ended causing cases to become bogged down until all appeals were ruled on by superior courts.
In an effort to expedite the case flow the legislature approved a New Code of Civil Procedure (NCPC), which came into effect on October 8, 2018 and significantly overhauls the existing system.
The New Code of Civil Procedure is divided into two sections. The First Section regulates matters related to general provisions applicable to all processes, for example, the principles, rules and procedural subjects, competence, parties, procedural acts, acts of a party, acts of the court, deadlines, defective procedural activity, suspension of the procedure, evidence, oral hearings, extraordinary forms of concluding the process, judicial resolutions, appeals, economic repercussion of the procedural activity, precautionary measures of protection and international procedural norms.
The Second Section establishes and governs the actual types of cases that are litigated. The previous category of abbreviated litigation track was eliminated. The only litigation tracks available under the new code are Ordinary, Summary and Monetary Collections. Other categories are Probate and Non-Contentious procedural activity.
The largest change in the process is the introduction of orality in the litigation procedure. The intent is to reduce the number of written pleadings previously required and introduce the use of oral hearings to resolve contested issues during the process. It does not completely eliminate the written pleadings but it does require oral hearings and appearances during specified stages of the litigation process.
The next area of overhaul is in the appeals process. Chapter IV of the New Code of Civil Procedure regulates the avenues open to appeal judicial decisions. It also limits the appeals process, thus avoiding the past practice of dragging out court cases by drowning each other with frivolous appeals.
The expectations among the judiciary and litigants is that this new Code of Civil Procedure will shorten the time frames of cases presented before it. The Court has been implementing all the tools necessary to transition into the new process. It is still to early tell if the new code will have an impact on the judicial backlog in the court system but it is certainly a step in the right direction.