One does not simply walk into the courtroom and hope for the best. To win a civil case you will need to navigate through the strict formalitites that were introduced by the new Hungarian civil procedure code. It closed many well-known paths of litigation tactics and antics but also opened up new possibilities.
So what are our top 5 pieces of advice that lead to success in the courtroom?
1. Decide where you want to litigate
There may be different courts available to decide your case. These could be the courts of Hungary or those of another country. Even within Hungary, you have the choice between arbitration and the ordinary courts. The designation of the court could have a decisive impact on the outcome of your case, its timing and the costs. For instance, you may prefer arbitration where the complexity of your industry demands that you have some influence on who your judges are.
2. Do your pre-trial preparation properly
The new rules of litigation before the ordinary courts require that all cards are revealed already in the first phase of the litigation. If you do not present a certain invoice to the court, or forget to involve certain witnesses that may be useful to your statement, you may not be allowed to do this later in the process. It is essential to collect at an early stage all documents and evidence that might be relevant to the case.
3. Obtain an expert’s report in advance
Asking for an authorized expert’s report before you present your claim in court can give you a head start. This allows you to get to know the strong (or weak) points of your arguments before the trial. If the expert’s report is unfavourable, you can choose not to attach this report to your submissions and to develop a strategy to manage the risks.
4. Be picky with your opponent’s submissions
Do not forget: the strict procedural rules of the ordinary courts do not only limit you, but also your opponent. Pay attention to their actions and omissions and use them to your advantage. For example, do not hesitate to let the judge know if the opponent does not provide adequate evidence, or if he or she makes contradictory statements.
5. Have a specialist handle your case
The new rules aim to accelerate court procedures and to make them more efficient; but this comes at the cost of higher expectations against the skills of the attorneys. So, last but not least, avoid generalists: make sure to have your case be handled by lawyers who are specialized in litigation and who are up-to-date with current legislation and judicial practice.