June 15, 2016
Innovations in Contentious Administrative-Law Proceedings for Expedited Judgements: Electronic Notification and Reduced Time Frames
By: Adriana Morales
On June 13, 2016, the Decree stipulating new reforms, amendments and repeals of several provisions in the Federal Administrative Procedural Rules Act was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation, and said decree entered into effect the day following its publication. The main objective of this amendment is the consolidation of effective judicial protections by implementing mechanisms and tools whose ultimate goal is to simplify and expedite contentious administrative judgements for the benefit of individual litigants and authorities.
The first innovation consists of the electronic notification of proceedings served to the parties in a contentious administrative proceeding via the Jurisdictional Bulletin by sending a preliminary notice to the email account indicated by both parties, and said notification should contain the name of the court chamber and the respective deciding magistrate, the record number, the identification of the authorities and if applicable, the identification of the individual being served, as well as a summary of the notice, decision or resolution. The Jurisdictional Bulletin can be accessed on the tribunal’s website, or at the kiosks located in the chamber where the trial is decided. The parties shall consult their respective Chamber for receipt of their notices.
It is important to note that hereafter the only notifications, which may served in person or by delivery-certified email are listed in Article 67 of the already reformed Law and are outlined below:
- In cases involving a third party in interest which has to be summoned.
- Service of summons to a defendant when he/she is not a government office or agency.
- Call to witness which cannot be filed by the offering party.
Secondly, the amendment decree stipulates the reduction of time frames for each phase of the regular contentious administrative proceedings. Thus, the time to file regular suit, to respond it, or to be summoned for judgment has been reduced from 45 to 30 business days; and the time period for filing for an extension of the proceedings and to respond thereto has been reduced from 20 to10 business days; and the agreement to close pre-trial proceedings has been eliminated, and instead shall be administered by law once the term for presenting summaries of arguments has come to a close, reducing the term for sentencing from 60 to 45 business days.
In terms of simplifying these processes, the innovations give legal entities the additional option to file lawsuits or any petition using their advanced electronic signature. In addition, it allows magistrates to impose fines ranging from 100 to 1500 units of measurements and updates in case the parties file petitions, ancillary proceedings, or appeals that are known to be frivolous and inadmissible; likewise, they may issue fines in case said parties use inappropriate language to refer to their counterparts or to court personnel.
Finally, it is worth mentioning other relevant aspects of the reform:
- The Deciding Magistrate may issue a suspension of the contested action in order to maintain the current status of the claim. The magistrate can likewise issue positive injunctive relief, including in situations of prolonged proceedings, whenever there are substantial damages to the plaintiff involved, or whenever said plaintiff alleges that the simple passage of time could lead to a significant legal violation.
- The positive injunctive relief and the suspension of the contested action may not take effect if the counterpart presents a counter bond to indemnify damages caused by the plaintiff.
- In the presentation of evidence, the Deciding Magistrate may order the provision of an expert board to consider the statements and testimony of both sides and of the court-appointed expert witness.
- Due to the standardization of terms, filing of a procedure in error (ordinary or summary proceedings) does not automatically lead to dismissal, unenforceability or suspension of the proceedings; however, deciding magistrate shall redirect the proceedings in the proper channels.
- The High Chamber of the Federal Court of Administrative and Fiscal Justice may take into account the business value of the matters to be settled in the proceedings.
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