Legally, the court cannot impose any obligations in relation to pre-action conduct before initiating proceedings, such as a pre-action letter. However, it is an obligation for the involved parties in a civil matter to carry out the necessary proceedings to attain the evidence and documents that must be presented along with the lawsuit. This means they must sometimes request any document that serves as evidence from the counterparty.

Statutes of Limitations

A person interested in presenting a civil lawsuit must first gather all the documentation and establish the evidence that will sustain their claim. Prior to the lawsuit presentation, they may not present any new documented evidence unless it is dated after the original presentation or if they are able to prove that it was impossible to know said information before the lawsuit.

The lawsuit must be presented before the substantive right expires. In civil matters, this lapse is generally ten years. If the lawsuit is presented after this period, the counterparty only needs to argue with the expiry date in order for the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

Jurisdictional Requirements for a Defendant

It is a general rule that the plaintiff must sue the defendant in the court jurisdiction of the address of the latter. However, the parties may agree to submit their dispute in a specific jurisdiction. If the court where the lawsuit will take place considers they are not competent to know about the case due to reasons of matter, degree, value or territory, they can refer the brief of the case to the judge they consider is competent to take it. If this second judge considers they are also not competent, then they must transfer the case to the Supreme Court of Justice, which will determine the court that will take it.

Initial Complaint

For its presentation in court, the complaint must include all the documents that prove the right to prosecute, such as the evidence that proves the alleged facts, or at least the location of said documents and the clarification if judicial help is needed in order to obtain them.

It is allowed, as an exception, to add previously unmentioned new documents once the complaint has been presented if such documents represent a new event or recent knowledge; however, this is considered by the judge on a case-by-case basis.

Rules of Service

The court that allowed the complaint has the responsibility of informing the defendant they have been sued. This diligence is referred to as emplazamiento (subpoena) and it is realised by the court official authorised by the judge. The law also allows the judge to authorise a public notary to realise said diligence, if requested and justified by one of the parties; this notary is nominated by the party that is requesting it.

If the defendant is outside the court’s jurisdiction and has not been informed by a public notary (who has the capability of doing this inside and outside the Republic of El Salvador), said diligence is then assigned via postal mail to another court in the jurisdiction.

Finally, if the defendant needs to be located outside the country, the process goes through the Supreme Court of Justice and the government’s diplomatic efforts, through the diplomatic offices in each country and according to international agreements.

Failure to Respond to a Lawsuit

When a defendant does not respond to a lawsuit they are declared as rebels and the procedure continues without notifying them about any updates on the case. However, in order to avoid violating constitutional rights, they are informed about the dispute sentence.

Representative or Collective Actions

The law allows class actions, specifically in customer protection, labor and environmental matters. A collective action about customer protection can only be done through legalized customer protection organizations. For environmental matters, any person who was been affected by the problem can place the suit. In labor matters, the suit is placed by the representative, and, in public order matters, if the persons presenting the suit decide to quit the process, the judge still recognizes the suit until the sentence.

Requirement for Cost Estimate

There are no requirements to provide clients with a cost estimate of potential litigation at the outset.

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