Edited by Jan M. Smits
When approached from a national point of view, the notion of ‘civil procedure’ does not pose major difficulties. In principle, civil procedure governs the adjudication of civil cases before a court of law. Apart from the occasional difficulty, for example the fact that in some countries such as France and The Netherlands there is room for deciding ‘civil’ claims for compensation in a criminal procedure, legal scholars and practitioners are perfectly able to give a definition of civil procedure in a national context. It is different in comparative legal research. Of course, also in this context one may claim that civil procedure governs the adjudication of civil cases before a court of law. However, if one observes this definition closely, one may conclude that it is problematic. The first difficulty – and this will not come as a surprise for those who are familiar with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights as regards the definition of ‘civil rights and obligations’ in Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights – is posed by the definition of a ‘civil case’.
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