Section I. The Ordinary Contentious Trial - Title I. The Introduction of the Case
Chapter I. The Introductory Libellus of Litigation
Can. 1501 A judge cannot adjudicate a case unless the party concerned or the promoter of justice has presented a petition according to the norm of the canons.
Can. 1502 A person who wishes to bring another to trial must present to a competent judge a libellus which sets forth the object of the controversy and requests the services of the judge.
Can. 1503 §1. The judge can accept an oral petition whenever the petitioner is impeded from presenting a libellus or the case is easily investigated and of lesser importance.
§2. In either case, however, the judge is to order the notary to put the act into writing; the written record must be read to and approved by the petitioner and has all the legal effects of a libellus written by the petitioner.
Can. 1504 The libellus, which introduces litigation, must:
1° express the judge before whom the case is introduced, what is being sought and by whom it is being sought;
2° indicate the right upon which the petitioner bases the case and, at least generally, the facts and proofs which will prove the allegations;
3° be signed by the petitioner or the petitioner’s procurator, indicating the day, month, and year, and the address where the petitioner or procurator lives or where they say they reside for the purpose of receiving the acts;
4° indicate the domicile or quasi-domicile of the respondent.
Can. 1505 §1. When a single judge or the president of a collegiate tribunal has seen that the matter is within his competence and the petitioner does not lack legitimate personal standing in the trial, he must accept or reject the libellus as soon as possible by decree.
§2. A libellus can be rejected only:
1° if the judge or tribunal is incompetent;
2° if without doubt it is evident that the petitioner lacks legitimate personal standing in the trial;
3° if the prescripts of can. 1504, nn. 1–3 have not been observed;
4° if it is certainly clear from the libellus itself that the petition lacks any basis and that there is no possibility that any such basis will appear through a process.
§3. If the libellus has been rejected because of defects which can be corrected, the petitioner can resubmit a new, correctly prepared libellus to the same judge.
§4. A party is always free within ten available days to make recourse with substantiating reasons against the rejection of a libellus either to the appellate tribunal or to the college if the libellus was rejected by the presiding judge; the question of the rejection is to be decided as promptly as possible (expeditissime).
Can. 1506 If within a month from the presentation of the libellus the judge has not issued a decree which accepts or rejects the libellus according to the norm of can. 1505, the interested party can insist that the judge fulfill his function. If the judge takes no action within ten days from the request, then the libellus is to be considered as accepted.
Chapter II. The Citation and Notification of Judicial Acts
Can. 1507 §1. In the decree which accepts the libellus of the petitioner, the judge or the presiding judge must call the other parties to trial, that is, cite them to the joinder of the issue, establishing whether they must respond in writing or present themselves before the judge to come to agreement about the doubts. If from the written responses the judge perceives it necessary to convene the parties, the judge can establish that by a new decree.
§2. If the libellus is considered as accepted according to the norm of can. 1506, the decree of citation to the trial must be issued within twenty days from the request mentioned in that canon.
§3. If the litigating parties de facto present themselves before the judge to pursue the case, however, there is no need for a citation, but the notary is to note in the acts that the parties were present for the trial.
Can. 1508 §1. The decree of citation to the trial must be communicated immediately to the respondent and at the same time to others who must appear.
§2. The libellus which introduces litigation is to be attached to the citation unless for grave causes the judge determines that the libellus must not be made known to the party before that party makes a deposition in the trial.
§3. If litigation is introduced against someone who does not have the free exercise of his or her rights or the free administration of the things in dispute, the citation must be communicated, as the case may be, to the guardian, curator, or special procurator, that is, the one who is bound to undertake the trial in the name of that person according to the norm of law.
Can. 1509 §1. The notification of citations, decrees, sentences, and other judicial acts must be made through the public postal services or by some other very secure method according to the norms established in particular law.
§2. The fact of notification and its method must be evident in the acts.
Can. 1510 A respondent who refuses to accept the document of citation or who prevents its delivery is considered to be legitimately cited.
Can. 1511 If the citation was not communicated legitimately, the acts of the process are null, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1507, §3.
Can. 1512 When the citation has been communicated legitimately or the parties have appeared before the judge to pursue the case:
1° the matter ceases to be res integra;
2° the case becomes proper to the otherwise competent judge or tribunal before which the action was initiated;
3° the jurisdiction of a delegated judge is fixed in such a way that it does not cease when the authority of the one delegating expires;
4° prescription is interrupted unless other provision is made;
5° the litigation begins to be pending; therefore, the principle while litigation is pending, nothing is to be altered immediately takes effect.