CODE OF CANON LAW
BOOK VII. PROCESSES
TRIALS IN GENERAL (Cann. 1400 - 1403)
Can. 1400 §1. The object of a trial is:
1/ the pursuit or vindication of the rights of physical or juridic persons,
or the declaration of juridic facts;
2/ the imposition or declaration of a penalty for delicts.
§2. Nevertheless, controversies arising from an act of administrative power
can be brought only before the superior or an administrative tribunal.
Can. 1401 By proper and exclusive right the Church adjudicates:
1/ cases which regard spiritual matters or those connected to spiritual
2/ the violation of ecclesiastical laws and all those matters in which there
is a question of sin, in what pertains to the determination of culpability and
the imposition of ecclesiastical penalties.
Can. 1402 The following canons govern all tribunals of the Church, without
prejudice to the norms of the tribunals of the Apostolic See.
Can. 1403 §1. Special pontifical law governs the causes of canonization of
the servants of God.
§2. The prescripts of this Code, however, apply to these causes whenever the
special pontifical law refers to the universal law, or norms are involved which
also affect these causes by the very nature of the matter.
THE COMPETENT FORUM (Cann. 1404 - 1416)
Can. 1404 The First See is judged by no one.
Can. 1405 §1. It is solely the right of the Roman Pontiff himself to judge
in the cases mentioned in can.
1/ those who hold the highest civil office of a state;
3/ legates of the Apostolic See and, in penal cases, bishops;
4/ other cases which he has called to his own judgment.
§2. A judge cannot review an act or instrument confirmed specifically (in
forma specifica) by the Roman Pontiff without his prior mandate.
§3. Judgment of the following is reserved to the Roman Rota:
1/ bishops in contentious matters, without prejudice to the prescript of can.
2/ an abbot primate or abbot superior of a monastic congregation and a
supreme moderator of religious institutes of pontifical right;
3/ dioceses or other physical or juridic ecclesiastical persons which do not
have a superior below the Roman Pontiff.
Can. 1406 §1. If the prescript of can. 1404 is violated, the acts and
decisions are considered as not to have been placed.
§2. In the cases mentioned in can. 1405, the incompetence of other judges is
Can. 1407 §1. No one can be brought to trial in first instance except before
an ecclesiastical judge who is competent by reason of one of the titles
determined in cann. 1408-1414.
§2. The incompetence of a judge supported by none of these titles is called
§3. The petitioner follows the forum of the respondent. If the respondent has
more than one forum, the choice of forum is granted to the petitioner.
Can. 1408 Anyone can be brought to trial before the tribunal of domicile or
Can. 1409 §1. A transient has a forum in the place of his or her actual
§2. A person whose domicile, quasi-domicile, and place of residence are
unknown can be brought to trial in the forum of the petitioner provided that no
other legitimate forum is available.
Can. 1410 By reason of the location of an object, a party can be brought to
trial before the tribunal of the place where the object in dispute is located
whenever the action is directed against the object or concerns damages.
Can. 1411 §1. By reason of a contract, a party can be brought to trial
before the tribunal of the place where the contract was entered into or must be
fulfilled unless the parties agree to choose some other tribunal.
§2. If the case concerns obligations which originate from another title, a
party can be brought to trial before the tribunal of the place where the
obligation either originated or must be fulfilled.
Can. 1412 In penal cases the accused, even if absent, can be brought to
trial before the tribunal of the place where the delict was committed.
Can. 1413 A party can be brought to trial:
1/ in cases which concern administration, before the tribunal of the place
where the administration was conducted;
2/ in cases which regard inheritances or pious legacies, before the tribunal
of the last domicile, quasi-domicile, or place of residence, according to the
norm of cann. 1408-1409, of the one whose inheritance or pious legacy is at
issue unless it concerns the mere execution of the legacy, which must be
examined according to the ordinary norms of competence.
Can. 1414 By reason of connection, interconnected cases must be adjudicated
by one and the same tribunal in the same process unless a prescript of law
Can. 1415 By reason of prevention, if two or more tribunals are equally
competent, the right of adjudicating the case belongs to the one which
legitimately cited the respondent first.
Can. 1416 The appellate tribunal resolves conflicts of competence between
tribunals subject to it; if the tribunals are not subject to the same appellate
tribunal, the Apostolic Signatura resolves conflicts of competence.
DIFFERENT GRADES AND KINDS OF TRIBUNALS (Cann. 1417 - 1445)
Can. 1417 §1. By reason of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, any member of
the faithful is free to bring or introduce his or her own contentious or penal
case to the Holy See for adjudication in any grade of a trial and at any stage
of the litigation.
§2. Recourse brought to the Apostolic See, however, does not suspend the
exercise of jurisdiction by a judge who has already begun to adjudicate a case
except in the case of an appeal. For this reason, the judge can prosecute a
trial even to the definitive sentence unless the Apostolic See has informed the
judge that it has called the case to itself.
Can. 1418 Any tribunal has the right to call upon the assistance of another
tribunal to instruct a case or to communicate acts.
THE TRIBUNAL OF FIRST INSTANCE
Can. 1419 §1. In each diocese and for all cases not expressly excepted by
law, the judge of first instance is the diocesan bishop, who can exercise
judicial power personally or through others according to the following canons.
§2. If a case concerns the rights or temporal goods of a juridic person
represented by the bishop, the appellate tribunal judges in first instance.
Can. 1420 §1. Each diocesan bishop is bound to appoint a judicial vicar, or
offcialis, with ordinary power to judge, distinct from the vicar general unless
the small size of the diocese or the small number of cases suggests otherwise.
§2. The judicial vicar constitutes one tribunal with the bishop but cannot
judge cases which the bishop reserves to himself.
§3. The judicial vicar can be given assistants who are called adjutant
judicial vicars, or vice-officiales.
§4. Both the judicial vicar and adjutant judicial vicars must be priests, of
unimpaired reputation, doctors or at least licensed in canon law, and not less
than thirty years of age.
§5. When the see is vacant, they do not cease from their function and cannot
be removed by the diocesan administrator; when the new bishop arrives, however,
they need confirmation.
Can. 1421 §1. In a diocese, the bishop is to appoint diocesan judges, who
are to be clerics.
§2. The conference of bishops can also permit the appointment of lay persons
as judges; when it is necessary, one of them can be selected to form a college.
§3. Judges are to be of unimpaired reputation and doctors or at least
licensed in canon law.
Can. 1422 The judicial vicar, adjutant judicial vicars, and other judges are
appointed for a definite time, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1420,
§5 and cannot be removed except for a legitimate and grave cause.
Can. 1423 §1. With the approval of the Apostolic See, several diocesan
bishops can agree to establish a single tribunal of first instance for their
dioceses in place of the diocesan tribunals mentioned in cann. 1419-1421. In
this case, the group of bishops or a bishop they designate has all the powers
which a diocesan bishop has over his own tribunal.
§2. The tribunals mentioned in §1 can be established either for any cases
whatsoever or only for certain types of cases.
Can. 1424 In any trial, a single judge can employ two assessors who consult
with him; they are to be clerics or lay persons of upright life.
Can. 1425 §1. With every contrary custom reprobated, the following cases are
reserved to a collegiate tribunal of three judges:
1/ contentious cases: a) concerning the bond of sacred ordination; b)
concerning the bond of marriage, without prejudice to the prescripts of
cann. 1686 and 1688;
2/ penal cases: a) concerning delicts which can entail the penalty of
dismissal from the clerical state; b) concerning the imposition or declaration
of an excommunication.
§2. The bishop can entrust more difficult cases or those of greater
importance to the judgment of three or five judges.
§3. Unless the bishop establishes otherwise in individual cases, the judicial
vicar is to assign the judges in order by turn to adjudicate individual cases.
§4. If it happens that a collegiate tribunal cannot be established in the
first instance of a trial, the conference of bishops can permit the bishop, for
as long as the impossibility continues, to entrust cases to a single clerical
judge who is to employ an assessor and auditor where possible.
§5. The judicial vicar is not to substitute judges once they have been
assigned except for a most grave cause expressed in a decree.
Can. 1426 §1. A collegiate tribunal must proceed collegially and render its
sentences by majority vote.
§2. The judicial vicar or an adjutant judicial vicar must preside over a
collegiate tribunal insofar as possible.
Can. 1427 §1. If there is a controversy between religious or houses of the
same clerical religious institute of pontifical right, the judge of first
instance is the provincial superior unless the constitutions provide otherwise;
if it is an autonomous monastery, the local abbot judges in first instance.
§2. Without prejudice to a different prescript of the constitutions, if a
contentious matter arises between two provinces, the supreme moderator will
judge in first instance either personally or through a delegate; if the
controversy is between two monasteries, the abbot superior of the monastic
congregation will judge in first instance.
§3. Finally, if the controversy arises between physical or juridic religious
persons of different religious institutes or of the same clerical institute of
diocesan right or of the same lay institute, or between a religious and a
secular cleric or lay person or a non-religious juridic person, the diocesan
tribunal judges in first instance.
AUDITORS AND RELATORS
Can. 1428 §1. The judge or the president of a collegiate tribunal can
designate an auditor, selected either from the judges of the tribunal or from
persons the bishop approves for this function, to instruct the case.
§2. The bishop can approve for the function of auditor clerics or lay persons
outstanding for their good character, prudence, and doctrine.
§3. It is for the auditor, according to the mandate of the judge, only to
collect the proofs and hand those collected over to the judge. Unless the
mandate of the judge prevents it, however, the auditor can in the meantime
decide what proofs are to be collected and in what manner if a question may
arise about this while the auditor exercises his or her function.
Can. 1429 The president of a collegiate tribunal must designate one of the
judges of the college as the ponens or relator who is to report about the case
at the meeting of the judges and put the sentence into writing. For a just cause
the president can substitute another in place of the original relator.
THE PROMOTER OF JUSTICE, THE DEFENDER OF THE BOND, AND THE NOTARY
Can. 1430 A promoter of justice is to be appointed in a diocese for
contentious cases which can endanger the public good and for penal cases; the
promoter of justice is bound by office to provide for the public good.
Can. 1431 §1. In contentious cases, it is for the diocesan bishop to judge
whether or not the public good can be endangered unless the intervention of the
promoter of justice is prescribed by law or is clearly necessary from the nature
of the matter.
§2. If the promoter of justice has intervened in a previous instance, such
intervention is presumed necessary in a further instance.
Can. 1432 A defender of the bond is to be appointed in a diocese for cases
concerning the nullity of sacred ordination or the nullity or dissolution of a
marriage; the defender of the bond is bound by office to propose and explain
everything which reasonably can be brought forth against nullity or dissolution.
Can. 1433 If the promoter of justice or defender of the bond was not cited
in cases which require their presence, the acts are invalid unless they actually
took part even if not cited or, after they have inspected the acts, at least
were able to fulfill their function before the sentence.
Can. 1434 Unless other provision is expressly made:
1/ whenever the law requires the judge to hear either both or one of the
parties, the promoter of justice and the defender of the bond must also be heard
if they take part in the trial;
2/ whenever the request of a party is required in order for the judge to be
able to decide something, the request of the promoter of justice or defender of
the bond who takes part in the trial has the same force.
Can. 1435 It is for the bishop to appoint the promoter of justice and
defender of the bond; they are to be clerics or lay persons, of unimpaired
reputation, doctors or licensed in canon law, and proven in prudence and zeal
Can. 1436 §1. The same person can hold the office of promoter of justice and
defender of the bond but not in the same case.
§2. The promoter and the defender can be appointed for all cases or for
individual cases; however, the bishop can remove them for a just cause.
Can. 1437 §1. A notary is to take part in any process, so much so that the
acts are null if the notary has not signed them.
§2. Acts which notaries prepare warrant public trust.
THE TRIBUNAL OF SECOND INSTANCE
Can. 1438 Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1444, §1, n. 1:
1/ from the tribunal of a suffragan bishop, appeal is made to the
metropolitan tribunal, without prejudice to the prescript of can.
2/ in cases tried in first instance before the metropolitan, appeal is made
to the tribunal which the metropolitan has designated in a stable manner with
the approval of the Apostolic See;
3/ for cases tried before a provincial superior, the tribunal of second
instance is under the authority of the supreme moderator; for cases tried before
the local abbot, the tribunal of second instance is under the authority of the
abbot superior of the monastic congregation.
Can. 1439 §1. If a single tribunal of first instance has been established
for several dioceses according to the norm of
Can. 1423, the conference of bishops must establish a tribunal of second
instance with the approval of the Apostolic See unless the dioceses are all
suffragan of the same archdiocese.
§2. With the approval of the Apostolic See, a conference of bishops can
establish one or more tribunals of second instance in addition to the cases
mentioned in §1.
§3. Over the tribunals of second instance mentioned in §§1-2, the conference
of bishops or the bishop it designates has all the powers which a diocesan
bishop has over his own tribunal.
Can. 1440 If competence by reason of grade according to the norm of
cann. 1438 and 1439 is not observed, the incompetence of the judge is absolute.
Can. 1441 The tribunal of second instance must be established in the same
way as the tribunal of first instance.
Nevertheless, if a single judge rendered a sentence in the first instance of
the trial according to can. 1425, §4, the tribunal of second instance is to
THE TRIBUNALS OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE
Can. 1442 The Roman Pontiff is the supreme judge for the entire Catholic
world; he renders judicial decisions personally, through the ordinary tribunals
of the Apostolic See, or through judges he has delegated.
Can. 1443 The Roman Rota is the ordinary tribunal established by the Roman
Pontiff to receive appeals.
Can. 1444 §1. The Roman Rota judges:
1/ in second instance, cases which have been adjudicated by the ordinary
tribunals of first instance and brought before the Holy See through legitimate
2/ in third or further instance, cases which the Roman Rota or any other
tribunals have already adjudicated unless the matter is a res iudicata.
§2. This tribunal also judges in first instance the cases mentioned in can.
1405, §3 and others which the Roman Pontiff, either motu proprio or at
the request of the parties, has called to his own tribunal and entrusted to the
Roman Rota; unless the rescript entrusting the function provides otherwise, the
Rota also judges these cases in second and further instance.
Can. 1445 §1. The supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura adjudicates:
1/ complaints of nullity, petitions for restitutio in integrum and
other recourses against rotal sentences;
2/ recourses in cases concerning the status of persons which the Roman Rota
refused to admit to a new examination;
3/ exceptions of suspicion and other cases against the auditors of the Roman
Rota for acts done in the exercise of their function;
4/ conflicts of competence mentioned in can. 1416.
§2. This tribunal deals with conflicts which have arisen from an act of
ecclesiastical administrative power and are brought before it legitimately, with
other administrative controversies which the Roman Pontiff or the dicasteries of
the Roman Curia bring before it, and with a conflict of competence among these
§3. Furthermore it is for this supreme tribunal:
1/ to watch over the correct administration of justice and discipline
advocates or procurators if necessary;
2/ to extend the competence of tribunals;
3/ to promote and approve the erection of the tribunals mentioned in
cann. 1423 and 1439.
THE DISCIPLINE TO BE OBSERVED IN TRIBUNALS (Cann. 1446 - 1475)
THE DUTY OF JUDGES AND MINISTERS OF THE TRIBUNAL
Can. 1446 §1. All the Christian faithful, and especially bishops, are to
strive diligently to avoid litigation among the people of God as much as
possible, without prejudice to justice, and to resolve litigation peacefully as
soon as possible.
§2. Whenever the judge perceives some hope of a favorable outcome at the
start of litigation or even at any other time, the judge is not to neglect to
encourage and assist the parties to collaborate in seeking an equitable solution
to the controversy and to indicate to them suitable means to this end, even by
using reputable persons for mediation.
§3. If the litigation concerns the private good of the parties, the judge is
to discern whether the controversy can be concluded advantageously by an
agreement or the judgment of arbitrators according to the norm of cann.
Can. 1447 A person who has taken part in a case as a judge, promoter of
justice, defender of the bond, procurator, advocate, witness, or expert cannot
later in another instance validly decide the same case as judge or perform the
function of assessor.
Can. 1448 §1. A judge is not to undertake the adjudication of a case in
which the judge is involved by reason of consanguinity or affinity in any degree
of the direct line and up to the fourth degree of the collateral line or by
reason of trusteeship, guardianship, close acquaintance, great animosity, the
making of a profit, or the avoidance of a loss.
§2. In these circumstances the promoter of justice, the defender of the bond,
the assessor, and the auditor must abstain from their office.
Can. 1449 §1. If in the cases mentioned in can. 1448 the judge does not
withdraw, a party can lodge an objection against the judge.
§2. The judicial vicar deals with the objection; if the objection is lodged
against him, the bishop who presides over the tribunal deals with it.
§3. If the bishop is the judge and the objection is lodged against him, he is
to abstain from judging.
§4. If the objection is lodged against the promoter of justice, the defender
of the bond, or other officials of the tribunal, the president in a collegiate
tribunal or the single judge deals with this exception.
Can. 1450 If the objection is accepted, the persons must be changed but not
the grade of the trial.
Can. 1451 §1. The question of an objection must be decided as promptly as
possible (expeditissime) after the parties have been heard as well as the
promoter of justice or defender of the bond, if they take part in the trial and
are not the ones against whom the objection has been lodged.
§2. Acts placed by a judge before an objection is lodged are valid;
nevertheless, those acts placed after the objection has been lodged must be
rescinded if a party requests it within ten days from the acceptance of the
Can. 1452 §1. In a matter which concerns private persons alone, a judge can
proceed only at the request of a party.
Once a case has been legitimately introduced, however, the judge can and must
proceed even ex officio in penal cases and other cases which regard the public
good of the Church or the salvation of souls.
§2. Furthermore, the judge can supply for the negligence of the parties in
furnishing proofs or in lodging exceptions whenever the judge considers it
necessary in order to avoid a gravely unjust judgment, without prejudice to the
prescripts of can. 1600.
Can. 1453 Without prejudice to justice, judges and tribunals are to take
care that all cases are completed as soon as possible and that in a tribunal of
first instance they are not prolonged beyond a year and in a tribunal of second
instance beyond six months.
Can. 1454 All who constitute a tribunal or assist it must take an oath to
carry out their function correctly and faithfully.
Can. 1455 §1. Judges and tribunal personnel are always bound to observe
secrecy of office in a penal trial, as well as in a contentious trial if the
revelation of some procedural act could bring disadvantage to the parties.
§2. They are also always bound to observe secrecy concerning the discussion
among the judges in a collegiate tribunal before the sentence is passed and
concerning the various votes and opinions expressed there, without prejudice to
the prescript of can. 1609, §4.
§3. Whenever the nature of the case or the proofs is such that disclosure of
the acts or proofs will endanger the reputation of others, provide opportunity
for discord, or give rise to scandal or some other disadvantage, the judge can
bind the witnesses, the experts, the parties, and their advocates or procurators
by oath to observe secrecy.
Can. 1456 The judge and all officials of the tribunal are prohibited from
accepting any gifts on the occasion of their acting in a trial.
Can. 1457 §1. The competent authority can punish with fitting penalties, not
excluding privation from office, judges who refuse to render a judgment when
they are certainly and manifestly competent, who declare themselves competent
with no supporting prescript of law and adjudicate and decide cases, who violate
the law of secrecy, or who inflict some other damage on the litigants out of
malice or grave negligence.
§2. The ministers and personnel of a tribunal are subject to these same
sanctions if they fail in their office as described above; the judge can also
punish all of them.
THE ORDER OF ADJUDICATION
Can. 1458 Cases are to be adjudicated in the order in which they were
presented and inscribed in the register unless one of them requires speedier
treatment than the others; this fact must be established through a special
decree which gives the substantiating reasons.
Can. 1459 §1. Defects which can render the sentence null can be introduced
as exceptions at any stage or grade of the trial; the judge can likewise declare
them ex officio.
§2. In addition to the cases mentioned in §1, dilatory exceptions, especially
those which regard the persons and the manner of the trial, must be proposed
before the joinder of the issue unless they emerged after the issue was already
joined; they must be decided as soon as possible.
Can. 1460 §1. If an exception is proposed against the competence of the
judge, that judge must deal with the matter.
§2. In the case of an exception of relative incompetence, if the judge finds
for competence, the decision does not admit of appeal; a complaint of nullity
and restitutio in integrum, however, are not prohibited.
§3. If the judge finds for incompetence, however, the party who feels injured
can appeal to the appellate tribunal within fifteen useful days.
Can. 1461 A judge who becomes aware of being absolutely incompetent at any
stage of the case must declare the incompetence.
Can. 1462 §1. Exceptions of res iudicata, of agreement, and other peremptory
exceptions which are called litis finitae must be proposed and
adjudicated before the joinder of the issue. A person who proposes them later
must not berejected but is liable for expenses unless the person proves that the
presentation was not delayed maliciously.
§2. Other peremptory exceptions are to be proposed during the joinder of the
issue and must be treated at the proper time according to the rules for
Can. 1463 §1. Counterclaims cannot be proposed validly except within thirty
days from the joinder of the issue.
§2. They are to be adjudicated, however, along with the original action, that
is, in the same grade with it unless it is necessary to adjudicate them
separately or the judge considers it more opportune to do so.
Can. 1464 Questions concerning the provision for judicial expenses or a
grant of gratuitous legal assistance which had been requested from the very
beginning and other such questions as a rule must be dealt with before the
joinder of the issue.
TIME LIMITS AND DELAYS
Can. 1465 §1. Fatalia legis, that is, the time limits established by
law for extinguishing rights, cannot be extended nor validly shortened unless
the parties request it.
§2. Before the judicial or conventional time limits lapse, however, the judge
can extend them for a just cause after the parties have been heard or if they
request it; the judge, however, can never shorten those limits validly unless
the parties agree.
§3. Nevertheless, the judge is to take care that such an extension does not
overly prolong the litigation.
Can. 1466 When the law in no way establishes time limits for completing
procedural acts, the judge must define them after having taken into
consideration the nature of each act.
Can. 1467 If the tribunal is closed on the day scheduled for a judicial act,
the time limit is extended to the first day following which is not a holiday.
THE PLACE OF THE TRIAL
Can. 1468 Insofar as possible, every tribunal is to be in an established
location open during stated hours.
Can. 1469 §1. A judge expelled by force from his territory or impeded from
the exercise of jurisdiction there can exercise jurisdiction and render a
sentence outside that territory; the diocesan bishop, however, is to be informed
§2. In addition to the case mentioned in §1, for a just cause and after
having heard the parties, the judge can also go outside the territory to acquire
proofs. This is to be done, however, with the permission of the diocesan bishop
of the place where the judge goes and in the location designated by that bishop.
PERSONS TO BE ADMITTED TO THE COURT AND THE MANNER OF PREPARING AND KEEPING
Can. 1470 §1. Unless particular law provides otherwise, while cases are
being heard before the tribunal, only those persons are to be present in court
whom the law or the judge has established as necessary to expedite the process.
§2. With appropriate penalties, the judge can call to task all those present
at a trial who are gravely lacking in the respect and obedience due the
tribunal; furthermore, the judge can also suspend advocates and procurators from
the exercise of their function in ecclesiastical tribunals.
Can. 1471 If a person to be questioned speaks a language unknown to the
judge or the parties, an interpreter designated by the judge and under oath is
to be used. The statements, however, are to be put into writing in the original
language and a translation added. An interpreter is also to be used if a speech
or hearing impaired person must be questioned unless the judge may prefer the
person to answer the questions in writing.
Can. 1472 §1. The judicial acts, both the acts of the case, that is, those
regarding the merit of the question, and the acts of the process, that is, those
pertaining to the procedure, must be put in writing.
§2. The individual pages of the acts are to be numbered and authenticated.
Can. 1473 Whenever judicial acts require the signature of the parties or
witnesses and the party or witness is unable or unwilling to sign, this is to be
noted in the acts; the judge and the notary are also to attest that the act was
read to the party or the witness verbatim and that the party or the witness was
either not able or unwilling to sign.
Can. 1474 §1. In the case of an appeal, a copy of the acts authenticated by
the attestation of a notary is to be sent to the higher tribunal.
§2. If the acts were written in a language unknown to the higher tribunal,
they are to be translated into one known to that tribunal, with due precautions
taken that the translation is a faithful one.
Can. 1475 §1. When the trial has been completed, documents which belong to
private persons must be returned; a copy of them, however, is to be retained.
§2. Without a mandate of the judge, notaries and the chancellor are forbidden
to furnish a copy of the judicial acts and documents acquired in the process.
THE PARTIES IN A CASE (Cann. 1476 - 1490)
The Petitioner and the Respondent
Can. 1476 Anyone, whether baptized or not, can bring action in a trial;
however, a party legitimately summoned must respond.
Can. 1477 Even if the petitioner or respondent has appointed a procurator or
advocate, they themselves are nevertheless always bound to be present at the
trial according to the prescript of the law or of the judge.
Can. 1478 §1. Minors and those who lack the use of reason can stand trial
only through their parents, guardians, or curators, without prejudice to the
prescript of §3.
§2. If the judge thinks that the rights of minors are in conflict with the
rights of the parents, guardians, or curators or that the latter cannot
adequately protect the rights of the former, then the minors are to stand trial
through a guardian or curator appointed by the judge.
§3. Nevertheless, in spiritual cases and those connected with spiritual
matters, if the minors have attained the use of reason, they can petition and
respond without the consent of their parents or guardian. They can do so
personally if they have completed their fourteenth year of age; otherwise, they
do so through the curator appointed by the judge.
§4. Those deprived of the administration of goods and those of diminished
mental capacity can stand trial personally only to answer for their own delicts
or at the order of the judge; otherwise, they must petition and respond through
Can. 1479 Whenever a guardian or curator appointed by civil authority is
present, the ecclesiastical judge can admit the guardian or curator after having
heard, if possible, the diocesan bishop of the person to whom the guardian or
curator was given; if the guardian or curator is not present or does not seem
admissible, the judge will appoint a guardian or curator for the case.
Can. 1480 §1. Juridic persons stand trial through their legitimate
§2. In a case of the lack of or negligence of the representative, however,
the ordinary himself can stand trial personally or through another in the name
of juridic persons subject to his authority.
PROCURATORS FOR LITIGATION AND ADVOCATES
Can. 1481 §1. A party can freely appoint an advocate and procurator; except
for the cases established in §§2 and 3, however, the party can also petition and
respond personally unless the judge has decided that the services of a
procurator or advocate are necessary.
§2. In a penal trial, the accused must always have an advocate either
appointed personally or assigned by the judge.
§3. In a contentious trial which involves minors or in a trial which affects
the public good, with the exception of marriage cases, the judge is to appoint
ex officio a defender for a party who does not have one.
Can. 1482 §1. A person can appoint only one procurator who cannot substitute
another unless the procurator has been given the expressed faculty to do so.
§2. If a person appoints several procurators for a just cause, however, they
are to be designated in such a way that prevention is operative among them.
§3. Nevertheless, several advocates can be appointed together.
Can. 1483 The procurator and advocate must have attained the age of majority
and be of good reputation; moreover, the advocate must be a Catholic unless the
diocesan bishop permits otherwise, a doctor in canon law or otherwise truly
expert, and approved by the same bishop.
Can. 1484 §1. Before the procurator and advocate undertake their function,
they must present an authentic mandate to the tribunal.
§2. To prevent the extinction of a right, however, the judge can admit a
procurator even if the mandate has not been presented, once a suitable guarantee
has been furnished if the case warrants it; the act, however, lacks any force if
the procurator does not correctly present the mandate within the peremptory time
established by the judge.
Can. 1485 Without a special mandate, a procurator cannot validly renounce an
action, an instance, or judicial acts nor come to an agreement, make a bargain,
enter into arbitration, or in general do those things for which the law requires
a special mandate.
Can. 1486 §1. For the removal of a procurator or advocate to take effect,
they must be informed; if the issue has already been joined, the judge and the
opposing party must also be informed about the removal.
§2. After the definitive sentence has been issued, the right and duty to
appeal, if the mandating person does not refuse, remains with the procurator.
Can. 1487 For a grave cause, the judge either ex officio or at the request
of the party can remove the procurator and the advocate by decree.
Can. 1488 §1. Both the procurator and the advocate are forbidden to resolve
the litigation by bribery or to make an agreement for an excessive profit or for
a share in the object in dispute. If they do so, the agreement is null, and the
judge can fine them. Moreover, the bishop who presides over the tribunal can
suspend the advocate from office and even remove him or her from the list of
advocates if it happens again.
§2. Advocates and procurators can be punished in the same way if in deceit of
the law they withdraw cases from competent tribunals so that the cases will be
decided more favorably by other tribunals.
Can. 1489 Advocates and procurators who betray their office for gifts,
promises, or any other reason are to be suspended from the exercise of legal
assistance and punished with a fine or other suitable penalties.
Can. 1490 As far as possible, legal representatives are to be appointed in a
stable manner in each tribunal, who receive a stipend from the tribunal and are
to exercise, especially in marriage cases, the function of advocate or
procurator on behalf of parties who wish to select them.
ACTIONS AND EXCEPTIONS (Cann. 1491 - 1500)
ACTIONS AND EXCEPTIONS IN GENERAL
Can. 1491 Every right is protected not only by an action but also by an
exception unless other provision is expressly made.
Can. 1492 §1. Every action is extinguished by prescription according to the
norm of law or by some other legitimate means, with the exception of actions
concerning the status of persons, which are never extinguished.
§2. Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1462, an exception is always
available and is perpetual by its very nature.
Can. 1493 A petitioner can bring a person to trial with several actions at
once, either concerning the same or different matters, so long as the actions do
not conflict among themselves and do not exceed the competence of the tribunal
Can. 1494 §1. The respondent can file a counterclaim against the petitioner
before the same judge in the same trial either because of the connection of the
case with the principal action or to remove or diminish the claim of the
§2. A counterclaim to a counterclaim is not allowed.
Can. 1495 The counterclaim must be presented to the judge before whom the
first action was filed even if the judge was delegated for only one case or is
otherwise relatively incompetent.
SPECIFIC ACTIONS AND EXCEPTIONS
Can. 1496 §1. A person, who through at least probable arguments has shown a
right over something held by another and the threat of damage unless the thing
is placed in safekeeping, has the right to obtain its sequestration from the
§2. In similar circumstances, a person can obtain an order to restrain
another from the exercise of a right.
Can. 1497 §1. Sequestration of a thing is also allowed as security for a
loan provided that the right of the creditor is sufficiently evident.
§2. Sequestration can also be extended to the goods of the debtor which are
discovered in the possession of others under any title and to the loans of the
Can. 1498 Sequestration of a thing and restraint upon the exercise of a
right can in no way be decreed if the harm which is feared can be repaired in
another way and suitable security for its repair is offered.
Can. 1499 A judge who grants the sequestration of a thing or a restraint
upon the exercise of a right can first impose an obligation upon the person to
compensate for damages if that person’s right is not proven.
Can. 1500 The prescripts of the civil law of the place where the object
whose possession is in question is located are to be observed regarding the
nature and force of a possessory action.