Art. 56 of Law No. 2-23 on Cassation Appeals: an efficient tool for companies to combat reckless litigation

May 14, 2024

Author: Camilo Caraballo

Long legal proceedings: a challenge for companies
Commercial companies are constantly faced with long legal proceedings, which in time become more and more lengthy. This is a problem induced by the procedural strategies of their adversaries, derived from the advice of their legal representatives.

This inconvenience entails an unnecessary economic cost for companies and, undoubtedly, has a negative impact on their corporate image in the eyes of society in general (customers, collaborators, suppliers, etc.). In order to combat these difficulties and expedite judicial proceedings, it is possible to make use of Article 56 of Law No. 2-23 on Cassation Appeals.

In this article we will discuss what this novel legislative tool consists of, its benefits and importance.

Innovation in the cassation procedure
The Dominican Congress marked a milestone in the history of local justice by enacting in January 2023 Law No. 2-23 on Cassation Appeals, which regulates such appeal in civil, commercial, labor and land matters.

This legislation introduced innovations to the appeal procedure, which advocate and lead to a change in the procedural culture of the Dominican Republic. Among these changes and incorporations of new legal figures, we highlight the following:

a) Reduces the formalities for filing cassation appeals. For example, it eliminates the need to obtain a subpoena, holding an unnecessary hearing -and for purely formalistic reasons- before the Supreme Court of Justice.

b) It introduces new filters of access to the appeal or admissibility of the appeal, especially the so-called “interest of appeal”.

c) Eliminates the suspensive nature of the cassation appeal, which is limited to the sentences expressly indicated in the new law.

d) Establishes the power of the Court of Cassation to issue a direct ruling, i.e., to decide the merits of a case under the exceptional conditions established by the law, without the need to refer the case back to an appellate court.

Thanks to these and other procedural novelties, we understand that this reform to the cassation procedure seeks to achieve, over time, a certain consistency in the criteria upheld by the Judiciary.

Also, this reform seeks to achieve an important and necessary streamlining of the cassation procedure and -in general- of the judicial processes; in order to comply with the mandate of Article 69 of the Dominican Constitution, which establishes that every natural or legal person has the right to “obtain effective judicial protection, with respect for due process”.

Economic sanctions to prevent the abusive use of the recourse and reckless litigation
Thus, in order to expedite judicial proceedings, Article 56 of Law No. 2-23 includes sanctions to address the “abusive, reckless or bad faith” use of the cassation appeal; since we had the tradition of exercising cassation appeals with the sole purpose of unjustifiably delaying the litigation in which a party was not favored or, which foreseeably understands that it will not be favored.

Thus, Law No. 2-23 establishes that when a party files an “abusive, reckless or bad faith” cassation appeal, its adversary will have the possibility of requesting that the appellant and its legal representative be sentenced individually or jointly and severally to pay a civil fine; as well as the corresponding indemnities for civil liability.

In addition, the Law grants the Court of Cassation the possibility of sanctioning, even ex officio, with a civil fine, the appellant and its attorneys who file a notoriously inadmissible and abusive cassation appeal.

In fact, the First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice took the initiative to apply the legislative tool of Article 56 of Law No. 2-23 (through judgment No. SCJ-PS-23-2659), by imposing or sentencing the appellant and its legal representatives to pay a fine amounting to DOP 120,750.00 Dominican pesos.

This is due to the fact that the appellant and its legal representatives filed a notoriously inadmissible cassation appeal and, therefore, became a clearly “abusive, reckless or bad faith” appeal.

Additional legal tool to expedite judicial proceedings
Article 56 of Law No. 2-23 is definitely a great procedural contribution that benefits all users of the Dominican justice system, since it could achieve the expedition of judicial processes. Therefore, the Dominican Republic would achieve a positive change in its procedural culture.

This streamlining of the processes would be materialized through the imposition of sanctions against the parties and lawyers who adopt procedurally disloyal behavior, which, without fear of being mistaken, will avoid the filing of excessive cassation appeals, since it will be necessary to verify the suitability and grounds thereof, in order to avoid possible additional sentences for the abusive exercise of the remedy of cassation.