CIVIL LAW PROCEDURE - SOUTH KOREA
The primary source of law regarding the civil litigation procedure is the Code of Civil Procedure, which was enacted in 1960 and revised extensively in 1990
Following the civil law
tradition, no court is bound by the views of another court as a matter of law. However, there are certain de jure and de facto exceptions to this principle. For example, a lower court must follow the interpretation of the law rendered by the Supreme Court in a particular case when the lower court's ruling has been reversed upon appeal and the case has been remanded to the lower court. Also, the established opinions of the higher courts generally exert a significant de facto influence upon subsequent court decisions
Civil lawsuits may be initiated in any District Court, branch court of a District Court, or municipal court. Either the domicile of the parties to the suit or the situs of the cause of action generally determines the jurisdiction of civil cases among the District Courts. The forum may also be chosen upon the agreement of the parties to a suit
PROCEDURE FOR TRIAL
Institution of Action
The filing of a complaint in a court by either the plaintiff or the attorney thereof initiates an action. The complaint must state the names of the parties and legal representatives, the demand for relief, and the legal grounds for the claim
Upon receiving a complaint, the presiding judge will set a date for a hearing and will summon the parties to appear. The parties may appear in person or by counsel. They can only be represented in court by licensed attorneys, except as otherwise provided by law. Each party is responsible for presenting evidence in support of its arguments. The judge may refer the case to a conciliation proceeding if it is deemed appropriate.
The trial is not conducted continuously, but may be held in a series of hearings, often two or three weeks apart. However, trials tend to be concluded more quickly than in the courts of any other country. The average duration of first instance trials is about 6 months before a panel of judges and about 2.5 months before a single judge. It is noteworthy that the fact-finding authority is vested exclusively in the judge
At the end of the trial, the judge enters a written judgment stating the reasons for the decision.
A judgment is not enforceable until it becomes final. However, the court may declare a judgment provisionally enforceable
A party who is dissatisfied with the judgment of a single judge on any question of fact or law
may appeal to the appellate division of the District Court. An appeal against the judgment of a panel of three judges of the District Court is lodged with a High court. Appeals against the rulings or judgments of either the High Court or the appellate division of the District Court must be filed with the Supreme Court, where only questions of law may be heard
SPECIAL PROCEDURES FOR SMALL CLAIMS ACTION
For more expeditious and simpler procedures for the settlement of small claims actions, civil cases involving claims not exceeding 20,000,000 Won (equivalent to about US£¤ 18,000) are brought as small claims trials. In such trials, the plaintiff can institute an action by making an oral statement to the court clerk instead of filing a written petition to the court. The court clerk must then put such statement on record and notify the defendant.Strict rules of evidence and procedure are waived to a considerable extent in a small claims trial. Even if the judge must give a written judgment at the end of a hearing, the judge is not required to state the reasons in writing.