Civil Procedure Law (United States)

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As a civil procedure law (Engl. Civil Procedure ) is called the law of the United States , a jurisdiction that regulates the flow of legal proceedings and the enforcement of judgments in civil matters. US civil procedural law differs most strongly among all areas of law from its continental European counterparts, in particular due to the extremely pronounced pre-trial discovery and the possibility of a jury procedure.

Legal sources

Civil procedure law initially exists independently in each individual state for proceedings before the courts of the respective state. In addition, there is a separate civil procedure law at the federal level. The most important source of law is the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). These are promulgated by the Supreme Court .


The court before which proceedings are heard is decided based on the three criteria personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction and venue. In the narrower sense, these have no counterpart to the factors usually used in continental Europe to determine jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction refers to the ability of the court authority over a particular defendant (defendant) or to exercise a certain thing. This is also possible if the defendant only stays in the territory of a federal state for a short time, but the application is handed over to him during this short time (so-called tag jurisdiction , see Burnham v. Superior Court of California ). The subject matter jurisdiction is particularly crucial for the demarcation between federal courts and state courts: It always exists in the case of diversity of citizenship and a value in dispute of over $ 75,000. As a venue we finally called the concrete local jurisdiction.

Procedural stages

The procedure is initiated by filing a complaint ; The federal and state levels differ in the question of whether sending or serving the lawsuit is relevant. At this stage, the lawsuit can fail. The most common reason for this is the so-called motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted according to FRCP 12 (b) (6). This means that the facts presented cannot lead to the desired legal result. If the lawsuit survives this stage, the phase of gathering evidence, the so-called discovery , begins ; the action itself does not yet contain any evidence. The parties can demand extensive information and evidence from anyone, in particular from the other party, and hear them comprehensively themselves or through their lawyers in so-called depositions witnesses. Only after this phase does the actual main proceedings, the trial, take place, in which each side can present their version of the case to the largely passive judge or, in addition, the jury. The so-called law of evidence applies to the collection of evidence during the proceedings .

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