Bringing or Defending a Civil Case
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5. What are the other general matters that I should pay attention to concerning the conduct of civil actions in court?

A litigant in person is required to comply with the rules or the procedures for court proceedings, on the principle that all parties are equal before the court.

Language

The parties are entitled to use Chinese or English in their pleadings or other court documents. If one of the parties requires the other party to use English or Chinese in the pleadings or other court documents, an application may be made to the court. The court will take all relevant factors into consideration and make the order. The court may order that all the proceedings be in Chinese or in English. Alternatively, the court may order a party to provide translation of the documents for the other party. The court may order the requesting party to pay the costs for the translation of the documents. Such costs may be ordered to be paid at the end of the trial or forthwith.

Document exchange with the other party

You should also remember that when you file a document with the court, you have to send a copy of that document to the other party or parties as well in order to give them notice. For the same reason, you should check your mail-box to see if the other party or parties are sending you court documents. This is your own duty. You have no excuse for not doing this and then trying to tell the court at the hearing that you had no notice of the court documents.

Court attendance

You will only be required to attend court upon notice or by summons (i.e. application by a party to the civil action). You may make inquiries at the relevant Court Registry (depending on which court or tribunal handles your case). You must be punctual in attending court.

During the hearing or trial

At a hearing or the trial, you should act according to the direction of the judge or master. The parties will take turns to make speeches. You may make notes of anything you disagree with and put forward your arguments when your turn comes to speak. You may refer to the relevant case law, legislation or other materials in support of your arguments. It is important that you behave properly in court. You must not use abusive language or remarks. Although the atmosphere during an argument will sometimes become heated or even emotional, you should bear in mind that the best way to put forward your argument is to speak in a calm, cool and polite manner. Therefore, you should control your temper in court.

After the hearing or trial

After a hearing or the trial, if the judge or master gives a decision and the reasons orally, you should not intervene even if you do not agree with the judge or master. It is no use to argue with the judge or master. If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the master or the judge, you have the right to appeal against that decision (unless it is from the Court of Final Appeal).

Contact with the judge

You should never directly contact the judge or master by any means in the course of a civil action. You should address your letters to the clerk of the relevant judge or master. You should also send a copy of any such letters to the other party as well. You should not send letters to the judge or master to state the merits of your case. Your case should be clearly set out in the documents which you file in court to support your case.

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