Dispute resolution—Panama—Q&A guide

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Dispute resolution—Panama—Q&A guide
  • 1. What is the structure of the civil court system?
  • 2. What is the role of the judge and the jury in civil proceedings?
  • 3. What are the time limits for bringing civil claims?
  • 4. Are there any pre-action considerations the parties should take into account?
  • 5. 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?
  • 6. What is the typical procedure and timetable for a civil claim?
  • 7. Can the parties control the procedure and the timetable?
  • 8. Is there a duty to preserve documents and other evidence pending trial? Must parties share relevant documents (including those unhelpful to their case)?
  • 9. Are any documents privileged? Would advice from an in-house lawyer (whether local or foreign) also be privileged?
  • More...

Dispute resolution—Panama—Q&A guide

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to dispute resolution in Panama published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: June 2021).

Authors: Patton Moreno & Asvat—Joaquín De Obarrio; Khatiya Asvat

1. What is the structure of the civil court system?

At the first level are the municipal courts, with jurisdiction on matters not exceeding US$5,000 and certain case-specific matters (for example, eviction proceedings). The municipal courts have jurisdiction over a municipality. Appeals against decisions of the municipal courts are heard by the circuit courts, where three circuit judges act as the appellate court, one of them serving as the main appellate judge.

Next are the circuit courts, with jurisdiction on matters exceeding US$5,001 and certain case-specific matters (for example, oral proceedings related to challenges against resolutions of corporations and claims involving land). The circuit courts have jurisdiction over a province, except for the province of Panama, where three groups of circuit courts hold jurisdiction over a series of municipalities.

The provinces are distributed in what is known as judicial districts. For civil matters, the Republic of Panama has four judicial districts headed by a Superior Court: the First Judicial District, formed by the provinces of Panama, Colon, Darien, San Blas and Panama Oeste; the Second Judicial District, formed by the provinces of Coclé and Veraguas; the Third

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