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Code of Canon Law

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Can. 1656 §1 The oral contentious process dealt with in this section can be used in all cases which are not excluded by law, unless a party requests an ordinary contentious process.

§2 If the oral process is used in cases other than those permitted by the law, the judicial acts are null.

Can. 1657 An oral contentious process in first instance is made before a sole judge, in accordance with can. 1424.

Can. 1658 §1 In addition to the matters enumerated in can. 1504, the petition which introduces the suit must:

set forth briefly, fully and clearly the facts on which the plaintiff's pleas are based;

indicate the evidence by which the plaintiff intends to demonstrate the facts and which cannot be brought forward with the petition; this is to be done in such a way that the evidence can immediately be gathered by the judge.

§2 Documents which support the plea must be added to the petition, at least in authentic copy.

Can. 1659 §1 If an attempt at mediation in accordance with can. 1446 §2 has proven fruitless, the judge, if he deems that the petition has some foundation, is within three days to add a decree at the foot of the petition. In this decree he is to order that a copy of the plea be notified to the respondent, with the right to send a written reply to the tribunal office within fifteen days.

§2 This notification has the effects of a judicial summons that are as mentioned in can. 1512.

Can. 1660 If the exceptions raised by the respondent so require, the judge is to assign the plaintiff a time-limit for a reply, so that from the material advanced by each he can clearly discern the object of the controversy.

Can. 1661 §1 When the time-limits mentioned in cann. 1659 and 1660 have expired, the judge, after examining the acts, is to determine the point at issue. He is then to summon all who must be present to a hearing, which is to be held within thirty days; for the parties, he is to add the formulation of the point at issue.

§2 In the summons the parties are to be informed that, to support their assertions, they can submit a short written statement to the tribunal at least three days before the hearing.

Can. 1662 In the hearing, the questions mentioned in cann. 1459 - 1464 are considered first.

Can. 1663 §1 The evidence is assembled during the hearing, without prejudice to the provision of can. 1418.

§2 A party and his or her advocate can assist at the examination of the other parties, of the witnesses and of the experts.

Can. 1664 The replies of the parties, witnesses and experts, and the pleas and exceptions of the advocates, are to be written down by the notary in summary fashion, restricting the record to those things which bear on the substance of the controversy. This record is to be signed by the persons testifying.

Can. 1665 The judge can admit evidence which is not alleged or sought in the plea or the reply, but only in accordance with can. 1452. After the hearing of even one witness, however, the judge can admit new evidence only in accordance with can. 1600.

Can. 1666 If all the evidence cannot be collected during the hearing, a further hearing is to be set.

Can. 1667 When the evidence has been collected, an oral discussion is to take place at the same hearing.

Can. 1668 §1 At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge can decide the case forthwith, unless it emerges from the discussion that something needs to be added to the instruction of the case, or that there is something which prevents a judgement being correctly delivered. The dispositive part of the judgement is to be read immediately in the presence of the parties.

§2 Because of the difficulty of the matter, or for some other just reason the decision of the tribunal can be deferred for up to five canonical days.

§3 The full text of the judgement, including the reasons for it, is to be notified to the parties as soon as possible, normally within fifteen days.

Can. 1669 If the appeal tribunal discerns that a lower tribunal has used the oral contentious procedure in cases which are excluded by law, it is to declare the judgement invalid and refer the case back to the tribunal which delivered the judgement.

Can. 1670 In all other matters concerning procedure, the provisions of the canons on ordinary contentious trials are to be followed. In order to expedite matters, however, while safeguarding justice, the tribunal can, by a decree and for stated reasons, derogate from procedural norms which are not prescribed for validity.

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