Legislative Development in Nicaragua: A New Code of Civil Procedure

Mar 7, 2016 | English Blog

The dawn of the 21st Century in Nicaragua revealed a horizon with high expectations for the legal arena. It seemed like the right time to move forward, to take steps towards the modernization and upgrade of certain legal institutions, bodies of laws and procedures which, in some cases, were anchored in the 19th Century.

The Nicaraguan judicial-procedural system was characterized for being highly formalistic and ritualistic, resulting in slow-pace processes at court and never-ending suits; affecting, thus, the business climate when it was the time to solve controversies and disputes via litigation. In the criminal field, it could take years before a court finally ruled a case, even though the defendant was imprisoned facing the process.

Much of the aforesaid was due to the rules of procedures in force at that time, governing lawsuits and trials for more than a century and evidently behind the times. Something had to be done to overcome such barriers, to make the path to justice shorter, lighter and faster, as the demand for justice rightfully claims.

Hence, an intense modernization program was implemented to achieve such goals, at both the legal and institutional levels. In the year 2001, a new Code of Criminal Procedure was enacted, which, based on the accusatory system, replaced the inquisitive traditional system that was deeply rooted in the previous Criminal Instruction Code from the year 1879. As a result, criminal procedures are now much shorter, transparent and effective.

In business, an alternative for the resolution of disputes appeared in 2005, providing businesses with the chance to seek a different way to solve conflicts or controversies, outside the courtroom. Such alternative came with the Mediation and Arbitration Law, under which the parties may agree to solve disputes via arbitration, or mediation, as the case may be, before an arbitration board or mediator, instead of a judge at court. The arbitration procedures have proved to be much faster and less formalistic than the litigation at court.

Some other developments have also taken place as part of the modernization efforts in the different procedural spheres, such as the implementation of the oral system for labor matters at administrative level, as well as for family-related cases at court, with positive results in terms of procedural celerity, access to justice and effectiveness of the system.

The year 2015 marks a historical milestone in the legal development and legislative production of Nicaragua, since it was the year in which a new Code of Civil Procedure was approved by the National Assembly (the Nicaraguan Parliament), changing the rules of procedure that each day were becoming less practical and effective for a modern and fast-paced business world.

Act No. 902 “Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Nicaragua”, was passed by the National Assembly on June 4, 2015, and was further published in “La Gaceta”, Official Diary, No. 191, on October 9, 2015, with a one-year-term of vacatio legis, so it will enter into force and effect until October 9, 2016.