The Legal 500 & The In-House Lawyer Comparative Legal Guide Dominican Republic: Litigation (2nd Edition)

This country-specific Q&A provides an overview of Litigation that may occur in Dominican Republic. In this edition Lucas A. Guzmán López, Partner and Paola M. Molina Estévez, Partner are featured. 

What are the main methods of resolving commercial disputes in your jurisdiction?

The main method to resolve commercial disputes is traditional litigation before ordinary courts. However, direct negotiation among interested parties is always present as litigation tends to become a mere means to persuade amicable settlements. Arbitration before a chamber of commerce, especially the ones located in Santo Domingo and Santiago (the two main cities), continue to evolve and mature, to the point where it is not atypical to find arbitration clauses in low to medium-stakes matters. Mediation is not quite as common in ordinary disputes and is more likely to take place when the dispute involves parties with similar backgrounds, especially if high-profile.

What are the main procedural rules governing commercial litigation?

The Commercial Code barely regulates commercial disputes, as only a few articles refer to the jurisdiction and standard of evidence in these matters. The main procedural rule, thus, is the Code of Civil Procedure, which basically consists of the 1806 French Code. The most relevant modification of the Code of Civil Procedure took place in 1978 with the enactment of Law 834, which, in turn, acknowledged the chief amendments made in France in 1972. Law 834 deeply simplified civil procedure (that essentially governs commercial litigation), particularly the discovery stage and the means to exchange evidence, but a new reform is highly needed to accelerate matters. Several bills have been considered since 1997, but none have been approved. Three other legislations have modernized civil and commercial procedure since 1978: Law 50-00 (enacted on 2000), Law 491-08 (enacted on 2008), and Law 544-14 (enacted on 2014, which regulates international affairs amongst individuals). Law 50-00 reorganized the structure of the Courts of First Instance; on the other hand, Law 491-08 tried to limit the appeals (a sort of certiorari review remedy) before the Supreme Court; while Law 544-14 ruled issues concerning, among other topics, conflicts of law and jurisdictions in international disputes. Finally, Law 479-08, on legal entities, provide important rules for commercial litigation, essentially allowing further interim remedies and criminalizing commercial breaches, which tends to estimate litigation between stake-holders.

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