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Litigation 2016

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Lithuania

Justinas Jarusevičius, Rimantas Daujotas and Ramūnas Audzevičius

    Overview

  1. 1.Court system
    Describe the general organisation of the court system for civil litigation.
    1. The civil judiciary comprises the following: 49 district courts, five regional courts, the Lithuanian Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Lithuania. The fundamental statute governing litigation of civil cases is the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP). The system is a traditional three-instance pyramid.

      Courts of the first instance sit in chambers comprised of one judge (in complex cases, three judges). Appellate courts sit in chambers of three judges; however, cases of small claims (ie, €1,450) can be heard by one judge. The Supreme Court of Lithuania (cassation instance) sits in chambers comprising of either three or seven judges; in some cases it may sit as the plenary session of the civil cases division or joint plenary session of the civil and criminal cases divisions.

      Lithuania’s courts are strictly independent from executive and legislative powers. Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the Law on Courts, CCP guarantees independence and impartiality of the judges. Each party of the case has a right to demand removal of partial or dependent judge. Request of removal has to be well reasoned by factual evidences. Subjective opinion of the party or procedural decisions of the judge does not consist a ground for the removal of the judge.

      Generally judge career starts by becoming a judge of district court after having five years of legal work practice and passing judge examinations. Judges are appointed by the President of the Republic of Lithuania under approval of Judicial Council. Judges nominated to the Court of Appeal by the President of Lithuania are confirmed by the Parliament of Lithuania. Judges of the Supreme Court of Lithuania are appointed by the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, based on a presentation of the President of Lithuania.

      According to the ruling of Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania in case No. 33/04 of 28 March 2006, the courts of general jurisdiction when adopting decisions in cases of corresponding categories, are bound by their own created precedents and decisions in the analogous cases, and the courts of general jurisdiction of lower instance, when adopting decisions in the cases of corresponding categories, are bound by the decisions of the courts of general jurisdiction of higher instance and precedents in the cases of the same categories.

      There is no jury in the legal system of Lithuania. However, currently new legislation is considered which would introduce ‘public jury’ into cases, which have a significant public interest value. 

  2. 2.The legal profession
    Describe the general organisation of the legal profession.
    1. There is no division between barristers and solicitors – a lawyer who independently represents his clients is called an advocate. Admission as an advocate is based on two steps procedure. Firstly, law graduate has to take two years of advocate trainee internship. When the first year of internship is finished advocate trainee has a right to represent his or her clients in the court of the first instance. Secondly, after two years of internship advocate trainee has to take the bar exam and after passing successfully, advocate trainee becomes an independent advocate.

      Another option is for a law graduate to accumulate five years of legal work experience and then take the bar exam to become and independent advocate. Candidates who have accumulated seven years of experience working as a judge, 10 years of experience working as a prosecutor, as well as those who hold a PhD degree in law are required to take a simplified version of the bar exam.

      Legal entities may also be represented in the courts by members of their executive bodies or employees. Employees may be representatives in litigation only if they hold a bachelor's or master's degree in law.

      Foreign lawyers from EU countries can represent clients in Lithuanian courts. Lithuania’s Bar Association has to be informed about the intension to provide legal services temporarily in Lithuania as it is required by the EU Council Directive 77/249/EEC article 7(2). With regards to permanent legal practice, foreign lawyers are obliged to register in Lithuania’s Bar Association as it is required by the Council Directive 98/5/EC article 3(1). Non-EU citizens have to qualify as an attorney in order represent a client in Lithuanian courts.

  3. 3.General
    Give a brief overview of the political and social background as it relates to civil litigation.
    1. Lithuania is a civil law country, thus procedural law is codified.

      Significant amendments to the CCP came into force on 1 October 2011. The aim of all the latest amendments was to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the civil procedure. For example, if the court of the first instance does not perform procedural activities within the time frame specified in the CCP, interested person has the right to refer to the appellate court with a request to set a time limit for procedural activities to be performed. CCP provides more options when a case is to be decided solely on the basis of a written procedure; electronic procedure was implemented from 1 July 2013. The latter is gaining popularity in Lithuanian litigation because it provides for a simplified procedure on submission of documents and tracking the case procedure online. 

      The caseload of Lithuanian courts is heavy and increases consistently. Therefore, Lithuania’s practice may be regarded as litigious when it comes to commercial disputes. However, the growing importance of ADR is slowly reducing litigation practice in the area of commercial disputes.

    Jurisdiction

  4. 4.Jurisdiction and venue
    What are the criteria for determining the jurisdiction and venue of the competent court for a civil matter?
    1. The general rule is that district courts hear civil cases at first instance. For some cases, according to article 27 CCP (commercial disputes with a disputed amount exceeding €43,500, public procurement, insolvency and bankruptcy, intellectual property, legal person's activity investigation, etc), the courts of the first instance are the regional courts.

      Parties have a right for derogation and prorogation agreements on jurisdiction. Otherwise, claim has to be brought in a district or regional court in accordance with the defendant’s place of incorporation. In cases where claims are related to real property and immoveable things, courts of the location of such property have an exceptional jurisdiction. Exceptional jurisdiction may not be changed by parties’ agreement.

      When there is a foreign country as a party, regional courts have an exceptional jurisdiction to decide a case as courts of the first instance.

  5. 5.Forum shopping
    Does your jurisdiction commonly attract disputes that have a nexus with other jurisdictions?
    1. Lithuania is not recognised as an attractive jurisdiction for forum shopping purposes. However, as jurisdiction of Lithuanian courts may be agreed in a prorogation agreement, litigation procedures may be resolved in Lithuania’s courts even if there is a nexus to other jurisdictions.

  6. 6.Pendency in another forum
    How will a court treat a request to hear a dispute that is already pending before another forum?
    1. Regulation No. 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (recast), as well as CCP and Lithuanian courts’ practice recognises lis pendens rule in national as well as international litigation. CCP and Lithuanian courts’ practice recognises lis pendens rule in national as well as international litigation.

      When proceedings involving the same cause of action and between the same parties are brought in the court of another EU member state, Lithuanian court (if it is not the court that first seized the case) shall on its own motion suspend its proceedings until the jurisdiction of the court first seized the case is established. When the jurisdiction of the court which first seized the case is established, Lithuanian court shall decline jurisdiction in favour of the respective court.

  7. 7.Deference to arbitration
    How will the courts treat a dispute that is, or could be, subject to an arbitration clause or an agreement to arbitrate?
    1. Articles 11 of the Arbitration Law and 137(2)(6) of the CCP provide that if the court receives a claim of the party regarding an issue that is covered by an arbitration agreement, it will refuse to accept such claim if at least one of the parties to arbitration agreement demands so. In its decision of 9 February 2010 in Case No. 3K-3-64/2010 the Supreme Court of Lithuania held that court’s order to accept the claim that is covered by the arbitration clause or agreement to arbitrate is subject to appeal.

      Furthermore, if such a claim would be accepted, the court would be obliged to leave this claim unexamined according to article 296(1)(9) CCP.

  8. 8.Judicial review of arbitral awards on jurisdiction
    May courts in your country review arbitral awards on jurisdiction?
    1. According to article 19(3) of Law on Commercial Arbitration, arbitral tribunal may decide on its jurisdiction in a partial jurisdictional award or in a final award. Both partial jurisdictional award and the final award where jurisdictional issue is decided are subject to appeal on the grounds listed in article V of the New York Convention. 

  9. 9.Anti-suit injunctions
    Are anti-suit injunctions available?
    1. There is no regulation or reported case law on anti-suit injunction. Moreover, the Court of Justice of the European Union has precluded explicitly the EU member states’ courts to use anti-suit injunctions against other EU member states’ courts (Turner, Case No. C-159/02; Tankers, Case No. C-185/07). However, just recently the Lithuanian Supreme Court had referred to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling on an injunction issued by an arbitral award (Gazprom Case No. C-536/13). On 13 May 2015 the CJEU has decided that EU member states are not precluded to recognise or enforce an arbitral award prohibiting a party from bringing certain claims before a court of that member state. According to the judgment of the CJEU, recognition and enforcement of the arbitral award, which sets injunction on the party of the arbitration agreement, is governed by the New York Convention and is not affected by the Regulation of the European Union.

  10. 10.Sovereign immunity
    Which entities are immune from being sued in your jurisdiction? In what circumstances?
    1. There is no general concept of sovereign immunity from being sued in Lithuanian courts in commercial or succession-related matters. CCP article 790 establishes that jurisdictional restrictions to sue members of a diplomatic mission and their families may not be applied in commercial matters.

    Procedure

  11. 11.Commencement and conduct of proceedings in general
    How are proceedings commenced? To what extent will a court actively lead the proceedings and to what extent will the court rely on the parties to further the proceedings?
    1. Usually the disputing party would file its claim to the court entitled to hear the case at the first instance. If the claim is accepted, the court sends the copy of the claim to the defendant with a notice indicating further action needed. After receipt of the defendant’s response, the court would set a date for preliminary hearing or ask the parties to provide additional written responses.

      After the preliminary hearing or exchange of addition responses by the parties, the court sets a date for the main hearing.

      In the most civil cases, the court has a passive role and is responsible only for the assurance of the economy of the process the adversarial principle.

      In cases where a question of public interest arises, the procedure becomes more inquisitorial. In these cases the court may overstep the boundaries set by the plaintiff’s claim and also has the right to request additional evidence and explanations.

  12. 12.Statement of claim
    What are the requirements for filing a claim? What is the pleading standard?
    1. The CCP requires detailed facts explanations in the claim, thus notice pleading is not sufficient.

      Pleadings should comply with the general requirements for the procedural documents according to article 111 of the CCP, thus a plaintiff has to specify the court, the parties, their representatives and enclosures.

      According to article 135 of the CCP, the plaintiff is obliged to present detailed claims, must submit all arguments and present all necessary evidence. When a party is not able to obtain and present evidence, it may be obtained by the assistance of the court at the party’s request.

      The stamp duty of the claim must be paid before submitting the claim, although the payment may be postponed if the financial situation of the claimant is difficult.

  13. 13.Statement of defence
    What are the requirements for answering claims? What is the pleading standard?
    1. The requirements for statement of defence are identical as for the statement of claim (see question 12). Some certain defence arguments must be raised before discussing issues on the merits (for example, jurisdictional objection or request to follow arbitration clause). According to article 143 of the CCP, after receiving a claim defendant has a right to bring counterclaim against the plaintiff.

  14. 14.Further briefs and submissions
    What are the rules regarding further briefs and submissions?
    1. The requirements for further briefs and submissions are identical as for the claim and statement of defence.

      Parties do not have any restrictions on amending their pleadings with additional factual assertions during the pre-stage of the procedure before the court sets a date for the main hearing. However, additional or amended pleadings may influence timing of the procedure. Thus, parties are required to present all facts, evidences and procedural requests as early as possible. Only in certain cases are parties allowed to file their additional written explanations. However, further submissions regarding legal evaluation are allowed at any time before the court’s leave to take the decision.

      The plaintiff may freely withdraw the claim at any stage of the procedure, unless the court finds withdrawal inconsistent with the public interest.

  15. 15.Publicity
    To what degree are civil proceedings made public?
    1. Until the decision of a court comes into force, no persons other than the parties to the case and their representatives may access the information submitted in the case. The information concerning the data of the court hearing is public, unless the proceedings are closed.

      Once the ruling of the court comes into force, it is made publicly available with all the personal data redacted including its submission to the court’s internet databases.

      Court hearings are held in public. However, it is not allowed for the observers to use TV cameras, voice recorders or to take photos during the hearing. There are some special occasions when the court may decide to conduct an in-camera trial (cases involving disclosure of confidential information, commercial secrets, information about a person’s private life).

      In publicly announced court decisions only details about natural persons who participated in a trial are held confidential.

    Pretrial settlement and ADR

  16. 16.Advice and settlement proposals
    Will a court render (interim) assessments about any factual or legal issues in dispute? What role and approach do courts typically take regarding settlement? Are there mandatory settlement conferences between the parties at the outset of or during the litigation?
    1. During the first hearing the court will suggest the parties to settle. However, the court may not render interim assessments about any factual or legal issues of the dispute as such assessment may be regarded as personal bias of the judge and may provide a ground for removal of the judge.

  17. 17.Mediation
    Is referral to mediation or another form of ADR an option, or even mandatory, before or during the litigation?
    1. Court mediation is voluntary procedure that may be commenced upon the agreement of the parties. However, court mediation or private mediation is not a popular method of dispute resolution in Lithuania. 

    Interim relief

  18. 18.Forms of interim relief
    What are the forms of emergency or interim relief?
    1. The following types of injunctions are available:

      • notice in a public registry prohibiting the sale or transfer of the property;
      • obligation to undertake certain actions to preserve property;
      • designation of a property administrator;
      • order to compel a party from performing a certain actions necessary to avoid damage; and
      • in exceptional cases, prohibition to the defendant to leave his or her domicile.

      The following interim freezing injunctions are available:

      • seizure of property – prohibition of disposing property in any way;
      • prohibiting the selling or transferring the property;
      • prohibiting the defendant from performing certain actions;
      • prohibiting third persons from transferring property to the defendant or performing other obligations to him or her; and
      • suspension of an enforcement procedure.

      According to article 145(1)(13) of the CCP court may apply any other form of interim measures that it finds necessary.

  19. 19.Obtaining relief
    What must a petitioner show to obtain interim relief?
    1. The courts may apply interim measures upon the request of the plaintiff if non-application could hinder the execution of the court’s decision or render it impossible, or at their own discretion when defending the public interest.

    Decisions

  20. 20.Types of decisions
    What types of decisions (other than interim relief) may a court render in civil matters?
    1. According to CCP, Lithuanian courts may render judgements on the merits in adversarial procedure and orders on procedural issues or on the merits in non-adversarial procedure.

      Different types of judgments may be rendered by Lithuanian courts:

      • a final judgment on the merits;
      • a partial judgment where court rules on part of the claims or on claims brought by part of the parties;
      • a preliminary judgment where court expresses view how the case may be decided if the parties do not take exactly stated actions; and
      • a default judgment on merits but relying only on the plaintiff’s claim.
  21. 21.Timing of decisions
    At what stage of the proceedings may a court render a decision? Are motions to dismiss and summary judgment available?
    1. The court may render a final decision after the preliminary hearing or exchange of additional responses by the parties or the main hearing take place and parties’ final pleadings are presented to the court. The court has a right to postpone the announcement of the decision up to 20 days after closing the hearing. The court of the appellate instance, as well as the cassation court, have a right to postpone the announcement of the decision by up to 30 days.

  22. 22.Default judgment
    Under which circumstances will a default judgment be rendered?
    1. When the defendant is properly informed about the claim and does not submit a statement of defence or does not appear in a hearing and does not request to hear the case in absentia, the court may render a default judgment under the plaintiff’s request.

      When the plaintiff does appear in a hearing and does not request to hear the case in absentia, the court may render a default judgment under the defendant’s request.

      It is not allowed to postpone the announcement of the default judgment.

  23. 23.Duration of proceedings
    How long does it typically take a court of first instance to render a decision?
    1. Typically it takes up to one year to render a decision of the court of the first instance. However, for complex cases it may take longer.

      There is an option to choose summary proceedings if certain conditions are met. In such case the proceedings can last only one month.

    Parties

  24. 24.Third parties – joinder, third-party notice, intervenors
    How can third parties become involved in proceedings?
    1. Under the CCP, a third party can be joined by the court into proceedings in the following circumstances:

      Upon written request of the plaintiff. The plaintiff may sue several parties as co-defendants. A defendant may also bring a counterclaim that is directed not only against the plaintiff, but a third party. In addition, both the plaintiff and the defendant may give a third party formal notice of the dispute where one party is concerned that in case it loses, it may have recourse claims against the third party (or may be subject to recourse claims by a third party).

      If the court finds that the claim was not filed against the correct defendant, a third party may be substituted for the named defendant. Secondly, if it is found that the same claim may be asserted against additional persons who are not defendants in the case, the court may, upon application of the plaintiff, summon such persons to appear in the case as defendants. Thirdly, if it is found that not all necessary parties have appeared as plaintiffs or defendants, they may be joined accordingly or if the court, during the court hearing, determines that the decision might influence the rights and obligations of a third party.

      Third parties may also request the court to be joined in the proceedings, if such proceedings might influence the rights and obligations of the latter.

      Third parties can present explanations and attachments to the pleading or defence, including evidence proving their case.

      On 2 April 2014, the Lithuanian Supreme Court revisited the issue of applicability of the arbitration clause to non-signatories in a case between the shareholders of a major retail chain in the Baltics.

      The Supreme Court had established that the arbitration agreement shall be applied only to signatories to the agreement and that an arbitral clause could be extended to non-signatories only in special circumstances. According to the Court, such special circumstances could include: (i) when there is a separate agreement; (ii) a party’s tacit consent, ie, in cases a party participates in arbitration procedure; (iii) when the arbitration agreement was concluded by the agent/representative of the respective party; and (iv) in case juridical persons are very closely connected, then the arbitration agreement binds both of them.

      There also two new cases of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Lithuania on the piercing of corporate veil in case of extension of arbitration agreement to a non-signatory. These cases are yet to be examined. However, it is expected that the Supreme Court of Lithuania would provide a more thorough explanation of the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil this year as an appeal on this matter is currently lodged with the Court.   

    Evidence

  25. 25.Taking and adducing evidence
    Will a court take or initiate the taking of evidence or will it rely on the parties to request the taking of evidence and to present it?
    1. Usually it is the duty of the parties to provide the court and one another with the evidence (including copies of documents) on which their submissions are based. Documents submitted by each party must have relevance to the case; documents must either confirm or deny the facts at issue in the case, otherwise the court may decide not to accept such evidence.

      In cases where questions of public interest arise, the procedure becomes more inquisitorial. In these cases the court may overstep the boundaries set by the plaintiff’s claim and also has the right to request additional evidence and explanations.

  26. 26.Disclosure
    Is an opponent obliged to produce evidence that is harmful to it in the proceedings? Is there a document disclosure procedure in place? What are the consequences if evidence is not produced by a party?
    1. During the stage of preparation for a court hearing, each party in the proceedings has to present the court with all the evidence and explanations that are of importance to the case, as well as informing the court about the evidence the party cannot present indicating the circumstances obstructing such delivery and finally formulating the claim and defence to such claim. There is no general pretrial discovery procedure.

      In addition, parties do not have a general duty to preserve the evidence pending trial unless they are specifically obliged to do so by the court. A person may request a court to take necessary measures to secure evidence that might be lost without taking proper securitisation procedures before filing a lawsuit.

      If evidence cannot be produced, disputed facts must generally be considered not proven and thus non-existent. However, the court may draw a negative inference from the party’s refusal to provide the document.

  27. 27.Witnesses of fact
    Please describe the key characteristics of witness evidence in your jurisdiction.
    1. Every person called as witness must arrive at the court and give fair evidence. Witnesses are sworn in and may be subjected to criminal liability if they knowingly give a false testimony. However, a person called as witness can refuse to testify if such evidence means testifying against himself, his family members or close relatives.

      Witnesses usually give oral testimonies. Written testimonies are not usually accepted. However, certain exceptions are available; for example, evidence signed by the witness and certified by a notary has the power of written evidence and is considered to be true unless declared otherwise by the court. Written evidence from witnesses can also be presented in court if it was collected by a prior order of the court, allowing the party to gather specific evidence by itself or with the help of a court bailiff. In addition, witnesses may also be examined at their location if necessary by using video or teleconferences

  28. 28.Expert witnesses
    Who appoints expert witnesses? What is the role of experts?
    1. Experts are appointed by the court on request by a party to the dispute. The party asking for the appointment must define circumstances to be established and questions to be answered by the expert. The court asks the opinion of the other parties but will itself determine final questions for the expert and who the expert will be. The Minister of Justice has issued a list of approved court experts. The list is being constantly updated. In certain cases the court offers both parties a chance to agree whom to appoint as the expert. If the parties agree, that expert is appointed, otherwise the court chooses an expert from the lists provided by the parties.

      The experts provide independent written opinions and answer questions provided by the court. The experts must be independent from any parties to the dispute.

      Experts give their independent written opinions in a written form; hence they do not usually give any oral evidence. The experts’ independent opinion is examined in the court. The expert may be asked to explain his or her answers orally. To explain or add certain information to the answers, the expert can be questioned by the parties and the court.

  29. 29.Party witnesses
    Can parties to proceedings (or a party’s directors and officers in the case of a legal person) act as witnesses? Can the court draw negative inferences from a party’s failure to testify or act as a witness?
    1. Any person of legal age and with consanguinity with the parties participating in the proceedings can be a witness in the case if he or she knows or may know any circumstances related to the case.

      In addition, the plaintiff or the defendant may request the court to call any person as a witness, notwithstanding the fact that such a person may party’s director or other officer of legal person.

      However, a party’s representative may not be called as a witness in case he or she is called to give testimony on matters that he or she had been exposed to while representing a party.

      The court may draw a negative inference from the party’s refusal to act as a witness or impose a fine.

  30. 30.Foreign law and documentation
    How is foreign law or foreign-language documentation introduced into the proceedings and considered by the courts?
    1. The language of Lithuanian courts is Lithuanian. Under CCP, evidence may include documents in a foreign language. The party submitting such evidence is always requested to provide a sworn translation. Generally, only the duly authenticated original documents or duly certified copies are admissible. The certified copies of the documents issued in foreign countries should be legalised or apostilled depending on the country where the document is issued, unless separate agreements/treaties provide other requirements.

      The court is required to take judicial notice of foreign law. If needed, the court may request assistance in the form of an expert opinion.

  31. 31.Standard of proof
    What standard of proof applies in civil litigation? Are there different standards for different issues?
    1. The burden of proof rests on a party making factual allegations. However, depending on the circumstances of the case, the court may assign the burden of proof to both parties and indicate which party bears proving what.

      In civil proceedings, Lithuanian law does not require full proof. The court must be sufficiently convinced of a fact to be proven. The court normally applies the rule of the balance of probabilities. According to his rule, the court is empowered to decide on the presence of certain facts if collected entirety of evidence sufficiently proves this although some uncertainty remains.

      Article 182 of the CCP provides that certain issues do not need any proof, for example, prejudicial facts, presumptions etc. 

    Appeals

  32. 32.Options for appeal
    What are the possibilities to appeal a judicial decision? How many levels of appeal are there?
    1. The decisions of the court of first instance can be appealed until they come into force. Any decision of the lower court can be appealed unless it is specifically forbidden to do so by law. An appeal can only be submitted by a party to the proceedings in the court of first instance. A party does not have a right to appeal a decision that was delivered without its participation if the party was duly informed about the proceedings but chose not to participate.

      The Supreme Court is the cassation instance in civil proceedings. The decisions of appellate instance courts can be appealed after they come into force. Cassation appeals can be subjected on significant matters of law in cases where there is reasonable doubt whether lower instance courts applied substantive and procedural law correctly, or when appellate courts departed from the judicial precedents of the Supreme Court, or when there is no consistent precedent of the Supreme Court regarding the situation of analogous cases.

  33. 33.

    Standard of review
    What aspects of a lower court's decisions will an appeals court review and by what standards?

    1. Appeals can be sought on two grounds: matters of fact or matters of law (or both). However, the Cassation appeals can only be subjected to matters of law. The Supreme Court of Lithuania would not hear any appeals based on factual circumstances (see question 32 above).

  34. 34.Duration of appellate proceedings
    How long does it usually take to obtain an appellate decision?
    1. The court’s decision may be appealed within a 30-day period to the respective court of appellate instance. After an appeal has been filed, a notice is sent to the other party. The court gives a 20-day period for the other party to provide a reply.

      The court of appellate instance reaches a decision in roughly a year. The appeal procedure is shorter mainly because no new evidence is allowed (certain exceptions are available), and because the courts are not required to organise an oral hearing when deciding on the appeal.

      The appellate court’s decision may be appealed to the Supreme Court within a three-month period. The Supreme Court deals only with matters of law. If the Supreme Court’s admission board accepts the case, the other party is given a 30-day period to provide a reply. The Supreme Court usually awards a decision within about six months due to the fact that the proceedings in the Supreme Court are mostly in writing.

    Special proceedings

  35. 35.Class actions
    Are class actions available?
    1. Class actions are available in Lithuania since 1 January 2015. The amendments of the CCP require the participation of an attorney in a class action case for the preparation of a claim and representation of the claimants in further procedure. The claimants’ group is obliged to inform the respondent about their intention to bring class action before submitting claim to the court. The group of claimants should consist of at least 20 members so they could bring a class action. CCP allows only an opt-in process.

  36. 36.Derivative actions
    Are derivative actions available?
    1. Article 16(1)(5) of the Law on Companies of the Republic of Lithuania has validated the right of shareholders to file an action with the court for reparation of damage resulting from non-feasance or malfeasance by the company manager and Board members of their obligations.

      The right to file such an action is granted to a shareholder by the above–mentioned law, when a company, due to a variety of reasons, is not able to defend its rights and interests independently.

      A distinctive feature of the derivative action is the fact that such an action defends a public interest, since in a lawsuit brought under derivative action a court judgement may establish obligation of company manager or board members to compensate damage done to the company due to their illegal activities resulting from nonfeasance or malfeasance of their obligations, and the company may be constituted by a fairly large group of shareholders. In such a lawsuit, however, a court is not authorised to take decision on compensation of a company’s shareholders losses incurred due to activities of the above-mentioned persons.

  37. 37.Fast-track proceedings
    Are fast-track proceedings available?
    1. Fast-track proceedings are provided for in the CCP: Court’s order or documentary proceedings.

      Court’s order: Court order can be obtained for claims substantiated by certain documents, for example an official document, written acknowledgment of a debt, a promissory note or a cheque. The court may apply the order for payment procedure only upon request of the plaintiff. Under this procedure, the court issues an order for payment ex parte, giving the defendant 20 days to pay or to assert defences against the order. If defences are asserted, the court schedules a hearing, conducts an ordinary civil proceeding.

      Documentary proceedings: for example, all evidence is in written form and the dispute only relates to financial claims. Thus, a provisional judgment may be rendered based on documentary evidence only. In such case, the defendant has the right to adduce additional evidence during a later stage of the proceedings, and the court may then in its final judgment amend, modify or affirm the provisional judgment.

  38. 38.Foreign-language proceedings
    Is it possible to conduct proceedings in a foreign language?
    1. Civil proceedings in Lithuania must be conducted in Lithuanian, not in a foreign language. However, a translator would be provided for every person who does not understand Lithuanian.

    Effects of judgement and enforcement

  39. 39.Effects of a judgment
    What legal effects does a judgment have?
    1. Article 18 of the CCP provides that res judicata (binding) court judgments, rulings, orders or decrees are binding to the government or municipal authorities, officers or officials, natural and legal persons. This Article establishes the main principle of civil procedure, namely, principle of the obligatory force of court decisions.

      In addition, the facts which are established by a res judicata court judgment in another civil case, participants to which were the same parties are not the subject of proof. It means that res judicata court judgment acquires the quality of prejudiciality, which applies not to all persons, but only to those who were involved in proceedings.

      Therefore, the party who makes allegations which were already rejected by particular courts can be considered as acting in bad faith. In that respect it might be said that under Lithuanian law, party is precluded from making allegations before other adjudicative bodies which were already rejected by courts.

  40. 40.Enforcement procedure
    What are the procedures and options for enforcing a domestic judgment?
    1. After the court’s judgment comes into force the plaintiff has a right to ask the court to issue a writ of execution, which is submitted to the court bailiff for execution.

      A court order issued in the summary (documentary) process is a writ of execution in itself and does not require any additional recognition by the court. It can be directly submitted to the court bailiff for execution.

      Certain decisions of the court, for example, in relation to interim measures, can also be executed directly (submitted to the court bailiff to take appropriate action).

  41. 41.Enforcement of foreign judgments
    Under what circumstances will a foreign judgment be enforced in your jurisdiction?
    1. A judgment rendered in a member state of the EU can be enforced similar to a domestic judgment. Judgments from non-EU states may be subject to bilateral treaties between the states involved.

      Recognition of foreign judgments is in the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal. To be recognised, the judgment must meet the conditions satisfying the right to fair process and not infringe public order or international private law. The procedure for enforcing judgments of EU member states (except Denmark) is governed by the Brussels I Regulation (44/2001). In relations with Norway and Switzerland, enforcement of judgments is governed by the revised 2007 Lugano Convention. Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Lithuania follows a simplified procedure since cases are not examined on their merits.

      No provisions on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments have been provided in administrative proceedings.

    Costs

  42. 42.Costs
    Will the successful party’s costs be borne by the opponent?
    1. Generally, the unsuccessful party has to pay the successful party’s costs. If the claim was only partly successful, a proportional amount of costs is awarded. Costs are awarded in full unless part of the legal fees has been denied as excessive.

      Legal fees can only be awarded if actually paid and evidence of this provided to the court before the end of the hearing in the main proceedings. Legal fees are awarded taking into consideration the complexity of the case and recommended amounts set by the Minister of Justice.

  43. 43.Legal aid
    May a party apply for legal aid to finance court proceedings? What other options are available for parties who may not be able to afford litigation?
    1. Usually each party has to fund the litigation until the court distributes the costs in the decision. However, natural persons who cannot protect their rights and legally protected interests because of their insufficient financial situation are eligible to use the scheme of State Guaranteed Legal Aid; they might also be exempted from stamp duty.

  44. 44.Contingency fees
    Are contingency fee arrangements permissible? Are they commonly used?
    1. As the Law on the Bar provides, an advocate can agree a contingency fee arrangement with the client pursuant to the principles of activity of the advocate.

      Although a few years ago Lithuania adopted rule allowing contingent fee agreements there is still no further legislation or clarification. Mainly contingent fee agreements are used when there is no risk of non-recovery. Contingent fee agreements can be divided in several types: hourly contingency fee, when the lawyer is paid for total hours spent on the case only if the case was successful; then, when the lawyer is paid an hourly rate and bonus premium, based upon litigation; and the best-known type is based upon the percentage of the plaintiff's recovery.

  45. 45.Third-party funding
    Is third-party funding allowed in your jurisdiction?
    1. Litigation costs are initially funded by the parties themselves. There is no specific regulation concerning the funding of litigation by a non-interested third party. The court can award litigation costs to a non-interested third party in civil proceedings, according to Supreme Court rulings that confirm such right.

  46. 46.Fee scales
    Are there fee scales lawyers must follow? Are there upper or lower limits for fees charged by lawyers in your jurisdiction?
    1. Lawyer and the client can freely agree on the fees payable to the lawyer. However, when allocating the costs of litigation, the court would usually take into account the recommendations established by the Minister of Justice so to check whether the costs claimed are not too excessive. Those recommendations are usually lower than the actual legal fees payable to the advocate.

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GAR know-how provides reliable cross-jurisdictional insight to help cement the building blocks of international practice. In this section, select experienced practitioners answer commonly asked questions for key jurisdictions so allowing readers to be better-placed to solve the challenges of their working days.

Questions

    Overview

  1. 1.Court system
    Describe the general organisation of the court system for civil litigation.
  2. 2.The legal profession
    Describe the general organisation of the legal profession.
  3. 3.General
    Give a brief overview of the political and social background as it relates to civil litigation.
  4. Jurisdiction

  5. 4.Jurisdiction and venue
    What are the criteria for determining the jurisdiction and venue of the competent court for a civil matter?
  6. 5.Forum shopping
    Does your jurisdiction commonly attract disputes that have a nexus with other jurisdictions?
  7. 6.Pendency in another forum
    How will a court treat a request to hear a dispute that is already pending before another forum?
  8. 7.Deference to arbitration
    How will the courts treat a dispute that is, or could be, subject to an arbitration clause or an agreement to arbitrate?
  9. 8.Judicial review of arbitral awards on jurisdiction
    May courts in your country review arbitral awards on jurisdiction?
  10. 9.Anti-suit injunctions
    Are anti-suit injunctions available?
  11. 10.Sovereign immunity
    Which entities are immune from being sued in your jurisdiction? In what circumstances?
  12. Procedure

  13. 11.Commencement and conduct of proceedings in general
    How are proceedings commenced? To what extent will a court actively lead the proceedings and to what extent will the court rely on the parties to further the proceedings?
  14. 12.Statement of claim
    What are the requirements for filing a claim? What is the pleading standard?
  15. 13.Statement of defence
    What are the requirements for answering claims? What is the pleading standard?
  16. 14.Further briefs and submissions
    What are the rules regarding further briefs and submissions?
  17. 15.Publicity
    To what degree are civil proceedings made public?
  18. Pretrial settlement and ADR

  19. 16.Advice and settlement proposals
    Will a court render (interim) assessments about any factual or legal issues in dispute? What role and approach do courts typically take regarding settlement? Are there mandatory settlement conferences between the parties at the outset of or during the litigation?
  20. 17.Mediation
    Is referral to mediation or another form of ADR an option, or even mandatory, before or during the litigation?
  21. Interim relief

  22. 18.Forms of interim relief
    What are the forms of emergency or interim relief?
  23. 19.Obtaining relief
    What must a petitioner show to obtain interim relief?
  24. Decisions

  25. 20.Types of decisions
    What types of decisions (other than interim relief) may a court render in civil matters?
  26. 21.Timing of decisions
    At what stage of the proceedings may a court render a decision? Are motions to dismiss and summary judgment available?
  27. 22.Default judgment
    Under which circumstances will a default judgment be rendered?
  28. 23.Duration of proceedings
    How long does it typically take a court of first instance to render a decision?
  29. Parties

  30. 24.Third parties – joinder, third-party notice, intervenors
    How can third parties become involved in proceedings?
  31. Evidence

  32. 25.Taking and adducing evidence
    Will a court take or initiate the taking of evidence or will it rely on the parties to request the taking of evidence and to present it?
  33. 26.Disclosure
    Is an opponent obliged to produce evidence that is harmful to it in the proceedings? Is there a document disclosure procedure in place? What are the consequences if evidence is not produced by a party?
  34. 27.Witnesses of fact
    Please describe the key characteristics of witness evidence in your jurisdiction.
  35. 28.Expert witnesses
    Who appoints expert witnesses? What is the role of experts?
  36. 29.Party witnesses
    Can parties to proceedings (or a party’s directors and officers in the case of a legal person) act as witnesses? Can the court draw negative inferences from a party’s failure to testify or act as a witness?
  37. 30.Foreign law and documentation
    How is foreign law or foreign-language documentation introduced into the proceedings and considered by the courts?
  38. 31.Standard of proof
    What standard of proof applies in civil litigation? Are there different standards for different issues?
  39. Appeals

  40. 32.Options for appeal
    What are the possibilities to appeal a judicial decision? How many levels of appeal are there?
  41. 33.

    Standard of review
    What aspects of a lower court's decisions will an appeals court review and by what standards?


  42. 34.Duration of appellate proceedings
    How long does it usually take to obtain an appellate decision?
  43. Special proceedings

  44. 35.Class actions
    Are class actions available?
  45. 36.Derivative actions
    Are derivative actions available?
  46. 37.Fast-track proceedings
    Are fast-track proceedings available?
  47. 38.Foreign-language proceedings
    Is it possible to conduct proceedings in a foreign language?
  48. Effects of judgement and enforcement

  49. 39.Effects of a judgment
    What legal effects does a judgment have?
  50. 40.Enforcement procedure
    What are the procedures and options for enforcing a domestic judgment?
  51. 41.Enforcement of foreign judgments
    Under what circumstances will a foreign judgment be enforced in your jurisdiction?
  52. Costs

  53. 42.Costs
    Will the successful party’s costs be borne by the opponent?
  54. 43.Legal aid
    May a party apply for legal aid to finance court proceedings? What other options are available for parties who may not be able to afford litigation?
  55. 44.Contingency fees
    Are contingency fee arrangements permissible? Are they commonly used?
  56. 45.Third-party funding
    Is third-party funding allowed in your jurisdiction?
  57. 46.Fee scales
    Are there fee scales lawyers must follow? Are there upper or lower limits for fees charged by lawyers in your jurisdiction?