Updated Rules for Postponing Court Hearings
New rules that limit the ability of parties to a court proceeding to request a rescheduling (even by mutual consent) came into effect on May 18, 2014. There is now a closed list of reasons that would justify a rescheduling. The purpose of the new rules is to reduce the extent of requests to postpone court hearings and limit the proportion of such requests that will be approved by the courts. These rules do not apply to patent office procedures, although it is possible that similar criteria will be adopted by the Israeli Patent Office (ILPO) with respect, at least, to legal proceedings held in the ILPO.
The president of the Supreme Court published new rules, effective as of May 18, 2014, relating to requests to reschedule a court hearing. The new rules are the result of a study conducted by the judiciary research department, which showed that postponement and rescheduling of requests occur very (in fact, too) frequently in all courts in Israel. It is of importance to note that the majority of such requests are submitted by the parties immediately prior to or during the scheduled hearing. This practice, inter alia, prolongs the proceedings and causes a waste of the preparation time invested by the attorneys and the judge. Moreover, it also indirectly and negatively affects the public’s confidence in the judicial system, reducing it.
The purpose of the new rules is to reduce both the extent of postponement requests and the proportion of such requests that are granted by the courts. The new rules limit the ability of parties and courts to postpone a court hearing, even where this would be done by mutual consent.
The main principal of the new rules is that court hearings should, in the majority of instances, be held at their original schedule. There may, however, be exceptions under special circumstances, which justify altering the original schedule either by the parties or by the courts. According to the rules, there is now a closed list of justified causes1 for requesting to reschedule a hearing. Any request for rescheduling a court hearing shall be submitted on a standard application form, accompanied by the relevant documentation supporting one of the justified causes therefore.
At this point and until otherwise decided, the new rules apply to court hearings and will not apply to proceedings at the ILPO. However, it cannot be ruled out that similar criteria may not also be adopted by the ILPO, at least for legal proceedings held there. This remains to be seen.
1 The reasons include: personal circumstances of a party or an attorney, out-of-court settlement negotiations between the parties, medical reasons, reserve military service of a party or an attorney, non-exhaustion of preliminary proceedings, concomitant hearing in a related hearing between the parties.
This article is provided for general information only. It is not intended as legal advice or opinion and cannot be relied upon as such. Advice on specific matters may be provided by our group’s attorneys.