Legal Understanding Topic: “Civil Lawsuit”

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Phnom Penh: This week, in legal understanding program from Fresh News Agency in cooperation with Cambodia International Cooperation Law Group (CICLG) would like to bring up another topic, “Civil Lawsuit” or “Civil Complaint” for discussion. The term “civil lawsuit” and “civil complaint” will be used interchangeably throughout the text.

In everyday lives, people always communicate with each other from time to time such as communication between relatives, when asking each other for help or doing business, etc. Meanwhile, some types of communication can also turn into disputes through disagreement, conflict of interest, dishonesty and abuse of rights and obligation.

When a dispute arises, disputing parties would make an effort to resolve it through various approaches such as negotiation or facilitation and if the use of these approaches is not successful, then legal action can be taken which is an important and effective mechanism towards resolution and finding justice for disputing parties based on legal principles. Therefore, in the case where there are disputes arise from above mentioned communication and legal actions are taken to the court by any of the parties to seek resolution, then such legal action is called “Civil lawsuit” or “Civil complaint”.

What is “Civil Lawsuit” or “Civil complaint”? Civil lawsuit is a legal right that is acknowledged by law for private individual. Private individual (can be physical or legal person) who can lodge complaint to court to resolve the arisen dispute and for the purpose of requesting the court to issue decision based on the claims in combination with supporting evidence and relevant laws.

On the other hands, civil complaint is a written document prepared by the suing party (the claimant) in order to make the other parties of the dispute (the defendant) to provide compensation for the damages caused or to abide by their obligation. The main objective of the civil lawsuit is to claim compensation for damages caused which arise from the abuse of rights or any interest of claimant.

How many types of civil lawsuit are there? There are three types of civil lawsuits such as: lawsuit on claiming for compensation, lawsuit on claiming for confirmation and lawsuit on claiming for creation, amendment and/or removal of the legal relation.

Lawsuit on claiming for compensation is a complaint that requests the court to issue a decision that orders the defendant to provide compensation (in the form of items, actions or obligations) according to the existence of the right of legal claim. The claim under this type of lawsuit can be a claim for a provision (in the form of money or item), an action (e.g. the court orders the defendant to move all the stuff from the rental property) or not to take action (e.g. the court orders the defendant to postpone the construction of the house).

Lawsuit claiming for confirmation is a type of complaint that requests the court to provide confirmation of the existence of right or legal relation according to the assertion made by the claimant about any rights/relation which is claim under the law. For example: The claimant requests the court to issue decision, providing the confirmation of the existence of the rights of the claimant to void the contract of the land purchase between the defendant and the claimant.

Lawsuit on claiming for creation, amendment and/or removal of the legal relation is a complaint that requests the court to issue a decision to create new legal relation based on the assertion about the existence of rights or the cause of the creation of any legal relation that has claimed under the law.  For example: The claimant requests the court to issue a decision in order to have them divorce the defending party.

In what form should the civil lawsuit be filed? Civil lawsuit is different from criminal lawsuit which generally filed through the verbal reports on any facts or verbal defamation complaint to the authority. Civil lawsuit on the other hand, has to be filed in written form which has clearly stated in Article 75 of Civil Procedure Code.

Besides the requirement for the civil lawsuit to be in writing form, the same article also sets out some key points that must be written in civil lawsuits such as: names and addresses of all parties (both claimant and defendant) and any legal representatives, contents of the court’s decision that claimant has claimed, necessary facts to support the claims and the cause of the claims.

In the case when the complaint is filed in an incorrect legal form as mentioned above, the court may issue a decision to make change. In the case of not changing the missing part for the claims, the court will issue a decision to cancel that complaint.

In addition, although the complaint is filed in the correct form in accordance with the format requirement by law, the court can also cancel such complaint if the complaint is made against public order or overlap/repetitive claims, therefore, the claimant would not gain any legal benefits from such complaint.

Compiled by: Mr.Attorney-at-Law, Lan Synith of the Cambodian International Cooperation Law group.

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