Prior to initiating a civil court procedure, parties may try to solve a dispute through out of court negotiations. When these out of court negotiations are not successful or when the relevant statute of limitations is about to expire, in order to protect their rights, the parties can initiate a procedure in the competent court.
One situation in which this can occur involves a claim for damages arising from a traffic accident. In these circumstances, according to the Macedonian Law on Obligatory Traffic Insurance, the party that has suffered damage in the traffic accident is obliged to request compensation first out of court, and only where no positive result can be reached in out of court negotiations may the party initiate a court procedure.
According to the Macedonian Law on Civil Procedure, claims in civil court are to be initiated with a law suit.
In commercial disputes with a value up to MK 1 million (equal to EUR 16,314), prior to filing a suit the parties are obliged first to attempt to resolve the dispute via mediation, and are able to file a formal claim with the court only where that mediation was not successful. Should the claimant fail to provide evidence to the court that the procedure of mediation ended without success the law suit will be rejected.
Once the suit has been accepted, each party will be obliged to state the facts and propose evidence on which it bases its claim or by which it objects to the allegations and evidence of the opposing party. The lawsuit has to be delivered to the defendant for response within eight days from filing. The summons which is delivered to the defendant together with the law suit is required to mention that the defendant is obliged to provide written response to the law suit in no less than 15 days and no longer than 30 days from the day of the receipt. Within eight days of receiving the defendant’s response to the lawsuit or after the time period for submitting a response to the lawsuit has expired the court will schedule a preparatory hearing to be held within 50 days of its scheduling. The parties are obliged to state all the facts and evidence on which they base their allegations at the preparatory hearing, as well as to submit the documents they intend to use as evidence in court.
The court is obliged to lead the court procedure without postponement and with the least possible cost and has to disable any abuse of the rights of the parties involved.
Throughout the course of the court procedure, the parties can agree to settle the claim, either in whole or in part. The court will point out to the parties the possibility for a settlement and will help them to conclude a settlement.
The court will decide on its own which facts it will consider substantiated, based on a conscientious and thoughtful assessment of each piece of proof separately and all together, as well as based on the results of the complete procedure. The parties can file an appeal of the court’s judgment within 15 days from the day it is received. A timely-filled appeal prevents the judgment from becoming legally valid in the part being appealed. The competent Appellate Court has to decide upon the submitted appeal.
The extraordinary legal remedies available to the parties against the second instance judgment according to the Macedonian Law on Civil Court Procedure are Revision and Repeating of the procedure. The party can submit a Revision within 30 days from the day of receipt of the judgment. The competent court for deciding upon the submitted Revision is the Supreme Court of Macedonia and it has to issue a decision upon the submitted Revision within a maximum of eight months after receiving the file from the first instance court.
The Repeating of the court procedure as an extraordinary legal remedy can be submitted within 30 days from the day of receipt of the second instance judgment.
The parties may also agree to have their disputes solved by arbitrage, according to the regulations from the Macedonian Law on International Trade Arbitrage. In the arbitrage procedure, decisions are to made by a majority vote of all members of the arbitrage counsel. The arbitrage decision has the same standing as a final court judgment and it represents an executive document upon which the execution procedure can be started.
According to the Macedonian Civil Process Law general civil court competence is granted to the court in the jurisdiction where the headquarters of the defendant (if a legal person) are located or where the place of residence of the defendant (if a natural person) are located.
In addition, according to the Civil Process Law, the court located where the damage occurred is also competent to hear the dispute.
By Zlatko Antevski, Attorney at Law, Lawyers Antevski
This Article was originally published in Issue 4.8 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.