What are the time limits for bringing civil claims?
The Mexican civil and commercial codes provide different statutes of limitation depending on the action.
The most common statute of limitation is 10 years; however, there are exceptions to this general rule; for example, in certain civil liability matters the statute of limitation is two years.
The events in which suspension on time limits may occur are given by law (in general, when a court action is initiated), and it is not possible for the parties to agree on such matter.Pre-action behaviour
Are there any pre-action considerations the parties should take into account?
On a general basis, the parties are not obliged to fulfil any specific actions before bringing an action to court unless they agreed that such actions must be previously carried out.
However, a party might need to follow certain pre-action procedures before filing a civil action under certain scenarios. For example, in some debt cases, before filing a lawsuit, payment should be required to the debtor through a notary public.
Also, the parties can start summary proceedings at a court to gather evidence before bringing an action through orders to exhibit documents, deposition of witnesses or possible defendant parties, investigations regarding the legal situation of real estates, among others.
If the person towards whom a summary proceeding is directed fails to comply with the requirement performed by the judge, an implicit confession may emerge in favour of the petitioner, which may be used in court against the defendant.Starting proceedings
How are civil proceedings commenced? How and when are the parties to the proceedings notified of their commencement? Do the courts have the capacity to handle their caseload?
Civil proceedings are commenced by filing a statement of claim before the competent judge, joined by all documents supporting the lawsuit.
Then the judge should render a ruling on the commencement of the proceedings within approximately five days of the receipt of the statement or might request the defendant to clarify the lawsuit before admitting it.
The service of process of the defendant may be performed by a court officer or by means of the publications of edicts in newspapers and official gazettes if the domicile is unknown and the judge has been unable to find out the domicile of the defendant after performing a thorough investigation.
Moreover, the court officer in charge of the service of process of the defendant must observe strict requirements established by the Mexican civil procedure law, such as fully identifying the individual who addresses the service of process and making sure that the address corresponds to the defendant’s domicile.
If the service of process does not meet the mentioned requirements, the defendant is entitled to file a motion to try to nullify his or her summons.
In class action proceedings, the judge must qualify the petitioner’s legitimate standing in the preliminary stage of the proceedings of the trial before admitting the lawsuit.Timetable
What is the typical procedure and timetable for a civil claim?
In general, Mexican civil procedures consist of five phases:
- service of process;
- conciliatory hearing;
- offering and submission of evidence;
- closing arguments; and
- ruling of the judge.
Once the service of process has been performed, the defendant usually has a 15-working-day period to answer the lawsuit.
In some cases, a conciliatory hearing can be held after the defendant has been given the opportunity to file a writ responding the lawsuit.
At the end of the hearing, in case that the parties do not reach any settlement regarding the claims, the judge will ask the parties to offer evidence usually within a 10-working-day period and will schedule a hearing for the submission of such proofs.
Submission of evidence may take place in several hearings if the particular circumstances of the case require so.
Once the submission of evidence has been accomplished, the court will receive the closing arguments of the parties, generally within a three-working-day period, and thereafter, the judge will render his or her judgment.
In contrast, regarding oral commercial proceedings, the timetable for a trial is shorter, because, for example, several phases of the trial take place at a single moment.Case management
Can the parties control the procedure and the timetable?
The general rule for civil procedures is to follow the timetable established by law; therefore, normally the parties may not agree or control in any way the rules of the procedure or timetable.
However, due to the fact that the parties are in charge of preparing the evidence for submission and to motivate the development of the proceedings, in some way the parties might have an indirect control of the procedure.
On the other hand, especially regarding commercial matters, the parties are empowered to enter agreements to fix certain rules of procedure and the timetable of the trial. Also, in some commercial litigations, the parties may agree to stop the proceedings for a certain period of time, and in these cases, any party may request the judge to restart the procedure at any time.Class action
May litigants with similar claims bring a form of collective redress? In what circumstances is this permitted?
Class actions may be brought to court when a group of individuals suffer damages from a common cause and in cases where common rights are involved. Class actions are basically allowed regarding consumers’ rights and environmental issues and are regulated by the Federal Civil Rules of Procedure and the Federal Law of Environmental Liability.