The Law of 15 July 2021, amending the New Civil Procedure Code; the Labour Code; the Law of 18 February 1885 on appeals and the cassation proceedings, as amended; the Law of 7 March 1980 on the organisation of the judiciary, as amended; the Law of 7 November 1996 organising administrative tribunals and reinforcing the efficiency of the administration of civil and commercial justice, as amended, was published in Luxembourg’s Official Journal, Mémorial A, on 19 July 2021, and entered into force on 16 September 2021 (with the exclusion of certain provisions that already entered into force on 23 July 2021) (hereafter, the “Law“).
The purpose of these procedural amendments was essentially to facilitate litigants’ access to justice and guarantee more efficient and rapid judicial proceedings.
The main procedural amendments brought about by the Law can be summarized as follows:
- Increase in the monetary jurisdiction of the justice of the peace court: the justice of the peace court’s monetary jurisdiction in respect of the amount in controversy was increased from EUR 10.000 to EUR 15.000. This allows more rapid adjudication of matters with low amounts at stake using this oral proceeding in which an attorney is not required and to thus render justice more accessible to litigants for these “small” suits, while allowing them to avoid long and costly legal proceedings.
- Adjustment of the amount in the last instance: the justice of the peace will henceforth be the court of last instance up to an amount of EUR 2.000 and subject to appeal regardless of the value of the suit, provided the suit is about one of the matters under Article 3 of the New Civil Procedure Code, for which the justice of the peace has exclusive jurisdiction.
- Amendment of the procedure for appeal of justice of the peace judgments: all appeals of justice of the peace judgments and brought before the District Court, will henceforth be subject to a commercial proceeding (oral). Representation by an attorney will thus no longer be required, including in civil matters.
- Amendment to conditional payment orders: the timeframe in which to make an objection to a provisional payment order rendered by a justice of the peace or the District Court President has been increased to 30 days. The enforceable order which will be delivered to the creditor by the court in which the claim is pending will henceforth have the effect of a judgment after trial, even in the absence of an objection.
- Upgrading of interim procedures, particularly interim payment orders: the forced execution of an interim order may henceforth be prosecuted until its term at the creditor’s risk, with the exception of the implementation of a seizure of real estate property. Amendment of the time- frame to appear in commercial matters: the timeframe in which to appear in commercial matters has been increased to 15 days, in addition to the timeframes for distance, as applicable.
- Reinforcement of procedural efficiency and introduction of a simplified pre-trial proceeding (coexistence of the ordinary pre-trial proceeding and a simplified pre-trial proceeding):
- reaffirmation of a judge’s pre-trial power: henceforth, a pre-trial judge will rule alone until removed from the case for reasons of incompetence, invalidity and dilatory objections.
- limitation of the number of pleadings to two sets of pleadings per party, concerning the reasons for incompetence, invalidity and dilatory objections.
- obligation to produce summary pleadings prior to the closing of the investigation, for matters subject to ordinary pre-trial proceedings (in the first instance and on appeal).
- introduction of a simplified pre-trial proceeding: this proceeding applies to matters the amount in controversy of which is less than or equal to EUR 100.000 euros, in which a sole plaintiff is against a sole defendant. If the requirements are not fulfilled, a reasoned request from one of the parties may be accepted by the president of the chamber concerned. It is similar to the administrative proceeding, providing for preset deadlines to serve the pleadings and submit supporting documentation, under penalty of foreclosure. The investigation in the case is limited to two sets of pleadings per party: three months will be granted to the defendant to respond to the plaintiff, followed by one month for each party to reply or file a rejoinder. These timeframes shall be suspended during the judicial recess and may, as applicable, by a reasoned request of one of the parties, be extended a single time. The judge may automatically request the submission of additional pleadings.
- Reinforcement of courts’ powers vis-à-vis experts: ab initio a judge will set the deadline by which experts must submit their reports. The expert’s non-compliance with that deadline can allow the judge to replace the expert, unless the expert requests a deadline extension by duly-reasoned request.
- Option for a litigant to be represented by his/her partner as defined in the Law of 9 July 2004 on the effects of certain partnerships in proceedings, as amended, with no requirement for an attorney-at-law.
- Establishment for an authorisation procedure to appeal an intermediary judgment: the parties may request that the competent court hear the appeal, the authorisation to file an appeal against an intermediary judgment. The appeal deadline is suspended during the investigation of the authorisation request until the court’s decision. The decision rendered may not be appealed and will have the force of res judicata.
- Introduction of a legal framework for remedies to correct material errors or omissions: this remedy, subject to an adversarial procedure, is filed for by the simple request of one of the parties or by a joint request of the parties before the judge having rendered the judgment in question or by the court before which it has been referred. A judge may also examine the issue of his/her own initiative.
- Introduction of a legal framework for a remedy for judgment interpretation: the remedy is filed for by simple request of one of the parties or by a joint request of the parties before the judge having rendered the judgment in question, provided the judgment is not under appeal.
Thus, the Law brings fundamental procedural changes, expected to reinforce the efficiency of the administration of justice and accelerate the settlement of lawsuits. Its main purpose is to more quickly dispense of matters with lower amounts at stake, particularly by increasing the justice of the peace’s monetary jurisdiction in respect of the amount in controversy, through the introduction of the simplified pre-trial proceeding and increasing the pre-trial judge’s powers.