Proceedings on the merits
Final court decision
Court proceedings are often called a lawsuit in popular parlance. But if you discuss a case with a lawyer, the term ‘proceedings on the merits’ is very likely to come up. It is not always clear what exactly proceedings on the merits involve and in which these proceedings differ from, for example, preliminary relief proceedings or an appeal. Proceedings on the merits are the legal proceedings in which a dispute is finally settled. In proceedings on the merits, the court delivers a final judgment of the case. The judgment in proceedings on the merits has binding force for the parties, if there is no other legal remedy (appeal or appeal in cassation) available.
Proceedings on the merits & summons proceedings
Most lawsuits are proceedings on the merits. You can regard this as the “normal” proceedings in case of a dispute. Proceedings on the merits can be initiated by means of a summons or a petition. Generally speaking, petition proceedings concern cases relating to the law of persons and family law. However, most civil cases are initiated by means of a summons. Most proceedings on the merits are therefore summons proceedings as well.
Providing evidence in proceedings on the merits
Unlike in preliminary relief proceedings, there is an opportunity to furnish evidence in proceedings on the merits. Witnesses can be heard, experts can be engaged, and the court may even conduct a local inspection (inspection of the site that is the subject of the dispute). Proceedings on the merits therefore go literally to the bottom of this dispute.
For extensive disputes it is usual for the court to deliver interim judgments, in which judgments are given on certain points of dispute and/or that contain instructions for the parties. Proceedings on the merits end in a judgment.
Appeal in proceedings on the merits
On appeal, a judgment given by a lower court is integrally reviewed by a higher court. An appeal can be brought against almost every judgment at first instance in proceedings on the merits.