What happens at oral argument?

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Oral argument provides an opportunity for both parties to a lawsuit to present their cases before a judge. If either the plaintiff or the defendant fails to show up, either the complaint or the answer may be substituted for their argument. Any facts admitted to by both parties are considered as true, but any disputed facts must be proven through evidence. Normally both the plaintiff and the defendant will be represented by lawyers during the oral argument. After oral argument the judge may arrange further proceedings or issue a judgment immediately depending on how clear the facts of the case are.

The first oral argument in a lawsuit provides both parties with a chance to explain their side of the story and attempt to persuade the judge to rule in their favor. However, some cases are too large to be decided after a single oral argument. Larger disputes often require witnesses, experts, presentation of evidence and extensive examination and cross-examination to get to the truth of the matter. In these cases it is necessary to hold proceedings to arrange issues and evidence. These proceedings give the parties a chance to clarify their arguments, including what they admit and what they deny, which helps narrow the focus of the case down to the essence of the dispute. The parties will submit briefs and evidence to the court and discuss which witnesses need to be called and in what order.

If you have questions about pre-trial proceedings in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.