What are the high courts and what do they do?

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High courts are located in eight major cities in Japan: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Sendai, Sapporo and Takamatsu. Parties who need to litigate in these courts, but live outside of these cities, need to commute to one of these courts or hire a local lawyer to bring their case. Unlike the single judge courts that hear lower level cases, cases in the high courts are heard by a three judge panel.

High courts hear civil appeals from the district courts and criminal appeals from the summary courts (which do not need to be appealed to district courts first and instead go straight to the high courts). The Tokyo High Court has a special Intellectual Property branch specifically to hear cases related to patent rights and claims against the Japanese Patent Office.

If you have questions about the judicial system in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.