§2 The provisions of this Code are also applied to these cases whenever the special pontifical law remits an issue to the universal law, or whenever norms are involved which of their very nature apply also to these cases.
TITLE I: THE COMPETENT FORUM
Can. 1410 Competence by reason of subject matter means that a party can be brought to trial before the tribunal of the place where the subject matter of the litigation is located, whenever the action concerns that subject matter directly, or when it is an action for the recovery of possession.
Can. 1411 §1 Competence by reason of contract means that a party can be brought to trial before the tribunal of the place in which the contract was made or must be fulfilled, unless the parties mutually agree to choose another tribunal.
§2 If the case concerns obligations which arise from some other title, the party can be brought to trial before the tribunal of the place in which the obligation arose or in which it is to be fulfilled.
2° in cases concerning inheritances or pious legacies, before the tribunal of the last domicile or quasidomicile or residence of the person whose inheritance or pious legacy is at issue, in accordance with the norms of canon. 14081409. If, however, only the execution of the legacy is involved, the ordinary norms of competence are to be followed.
Can. 1414 Competence by reason of connection means that cases which are interconnected can be heard by one and the same tribunal and in the same process, unless this is prevented by a provision of the law.
Can. 1415 Competence by reason of prior summons means that, if two or more tribunals are equally competent, the tribunal which has first lawfully summoned the respondent has the right to hear the case.
Can. 1416 A conflict of competence between tribunals subject to the same appeal tribunal is to be resolved by the latter tribunal. If they are not subject to the same appeal tribunal, the conflict is to be settled by the Apostolic Signatura.
TITLE II : DIFFERENT GRADES AND KINDS OF TRIBUNALS
Can. 1417 §1 Because of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, any of the faithful may either refer their case to, or introduce it before, the Holy See, whether the case be contentious or penal. They may do so at any grade of trial or at any stage of the suit.
§2 Apart from the case of an appeal, a referral to the Apostolic See does not suspend the exercise of jurisdiction of a judge who has already begun to hear a case. The judge can, therefore, continue with the trial up to the definitive judgment, unless the Apostolic See has indicated to him that it has reserved the case to itself.
CHAPTER I : THE TRIBUNAL OF FIRST INSTANCE
ARTICLE 1 : THE JUDGE
Can. 1419 §1 In each diocese and for all cases which are not expressly excepted in law, the judge of first instance is the diocesan Bishop. He can exercise his judicial power either personally or through others, in accordance with the following canons.
Can. 1420 §1 Each diocesan Bishop is obliged to appoint a judicial Vicar, or 'Officialis', with ordinary power to judge. The judicial Vicar is to be a person distinct from the Vicar general, unless the smallness of the diocese or the limited number of cases suggests otherwise.
Can. 1422 The judicial Vicar, the associate judicial Vicars and the other judges are appointed for a specified period of time, without prejudice to the provision of can. 1420 §5. They cannot be removed from office except for a lawful and grave reason.
Can. 1423 §1 With the approval of the Apostolic See, several diocesan Bishops can agree to establish one tribunal of first instance in their dioceses, in place of the diocesan tribunals mentioned in canon. 1419-1421. In this case the group of Bishops, or a Bishop designated by them, has all the powers which the diocesan Bishop has for his tribunal.
§4 In a trial at first instance, if it should happen that it is impossible to constitute a college of judges, the Episcopal Conference can for as long as the impossibility persists, permit the Bishop to entrust cases to a sole clerical judge. Where possible, the sole judge is to associate with himself an assessor and an auditor.
Can. 1427 §1 If there is a controversy between religious, or houses of the same clerical religious institute of pontifical right, the judge at first instance, unless the constitutions provide otherwise, is the provincial Superior or, if an autonomous monastery is concerned, the local Abbot.
§2 Without prejudice to a different provision in the constitutions, when a contentious matter arises between two provinces, the supreme Moderator, either personally or through a delegate, will be the judge at first instance. If the controversy is between two monasteries, the Abbot superior of the monastic congregation will be the judge.
§3 Finally, if a controversy arises between physical or juridical persons of different religious institutes or even of the same clerical institute of diocesan right or of the same lay institute, or between a religious person and a secular cleric or a lay person or a nonreligious juridical person, it is the diocesan tribunal which judges at first instance.
ARTICLE 2: AUDITORS AND RELATORS
Can. 1428 §1 The judge or, in the case of a collegiate tribunal, the presiding judge, can designate an auditor to instruct the case. The auditor may be chosen from the tribunal judges, or from persons approved by the Bishop for this office.
§3 The task of the auditor is solely to gather the evidence in accordance with the judge's commission and, when gathered, to submit it to the judge. Unless the judge determines otherwise, however, an auditor can in the meantime decide what evidence is to be collected and the manner of its collection, should any question arise about these matters while the auditor is carrying out his role.
Can. 1429 The presiding judge of a collegiate tribunal is to designate one of the judges of the college as 'ponens' or 'relator'. This person is to present the case at the meeting of the judges and set out the judgment in writing. For a just reason the presiding judge can substitute another person in the place of the 'ponens'.
ARTICLE 3: THE PROMOTER OF JUSTICE, THE DEFENDER OF THE BOND AND THE NOTARY
Can. 1430 A promoter of justice is to be appointed in the diocese for penal cases, and for contentious cases in which the public good may be at stake. The promoter is bound by office to safeguard the public good.
Can. 1431 §1 In contentious cases it is for the diocesan Bishop to decide whether the public good is at stake or not, unless the law prescribes the intervention of the promoter of justice, or this is clearly necessary from the nature of things.
Can. 1432 A defender of the bond is to be appointed in the diocese for cases which deal with the nullity of ordination or the nullity or dissolution of marriage. The defender of the bond is bound by office to present and expound all that can reasonably be argued against the nullity or dissolution.
Can. 1433 In cases in which the presence of the promoter of justice or of the defender of the bond is required, the acts are invalid if they were not summoned. This does not apply if, although not summoned, they were in fact present or, having studied the acts, able to fulfill their role at least before the judgment.
Can. 1435 It is the Bishop's responsibility to appoint the promoter of justice and defender of the bond. They are to be clerics or lay persons of good repute, with a doctorate or a licentiate in canon law, and of proven prudence and zeal for justice.
CHAPTER II : THE TRIBUNAL OF SECOND INSTANCE
2° in cases heard at first instance in the tribunal of the Metropolitan, the appeal is to a tribunal which the Metropolitan, with the approval of the Apostolic See, has designated in a stable fashion;
3° for cases dealt with before a provincial Superior, the tribunal of second instance is that of the supreme Moderator; for cases heard before the local Abbot, the second instance court is that of the Abbot superior of the monastic congregation.
Can. 1439 §1 If a single tribunal of first instance has been constituted for several dioceses, in accordance with the norm of can. 1423, the Episcopal Conference must, with the approval of the Holy See, constitute a tribunal of second instance, unless the dioceses are all suffragans of the same archdiocese.
§3 In respect of the second instance tribunals mentioned in §§12, the Episcopal Conference, or the Bishop designated by it, has all the powers that belong to a diocesan Bishop in respect of his own tribunal.
Can. 1441 The tribunal of second instance is to be constituted in the same way as the tribunal of first instance. However, if a sole judge has given a judgment in first instance in accordance with can. 1425 §4, the second instance tribunal is to act collegially.
CHAPTER III : THE TRIBUNALS OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE
Can. 1442 The Roman Pontiff is the supreme judge for the whole catholic world. He gives judgment either personally, or through the ordinary tribunals of the Apostolic See, or through judges whom he delegates.
§2 This tribunal also judges in first instance the cases mentioned in can. 1405 §3, and any others which the Roman Pontiff, either on his own initiative or at the request of the parties, has reserved to his tribunal and has entrusted to the Roman Rota. These cases are judged by the Rota also in second or further instances, unless the rescript entrusting the task provides otherwise.
§2 This same Tribunal deals with controversies which arise from an act of ecclesiastical administrative power, and which are lawfully referred to it. It also deals with other administrative controversies referred to it by the Roman Pontiff or by departments of the Roman Curia, and with conflicts of competence among these departments.
TITLE III : THE DISCIPLINE TO BE OBSERVED IN TRIBUNALS
CHAPTER I : THE DUTIES OF THE JUDGES AND OF THE OFFICERS OF THE TRIBUNAL
Can. 1446 §1 All Christ's faithful, and especially Bishops, are to strive earnestly, with due regard for justice, to ensure that disputes among the people of God are as far as possible avoided, and are settled promptly and without rancor.
§2 In the early stages of litigation, and indeed at any other time as often as he discerns any hope of a successful outcome, the judge is not to fail to exhort and assist the parties to seek an equitable solution to their controversy in discussions with one another. He is to indicate to them suitable means to this end and avail himself of serious-minded persons to mediate.
§3 If the issue is about the private good of the parties, the judge is to discern whether an agreement or a judgment by an arbitrator, in accordance with the norms of canon. 17171720  , might usefully serve to resolve the controversy.
Can. 1447 Any person involved in a case as judge, promoter of justice, defender of the bond, procurator, advocate, witness or expert cannot subsequently, in another instance, validly determine the same case as a judge or exercise the role of assessor in it.
Can. 1448 §1 The judge is not to undertake the hearing of a case in which any personal interest may be 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 guardianship or tutelage, or of close acquaintanceship or marked hostility or possible financial profit or loss.
Can. 1451 §1 The objection is to be decided with maximum expedition, after hearing the parties, the promoter of justice or the defender of the bond, if they are engaged in the trial and the objection is not directed against them.
§2 Acts performed by a judge before being objected to are valid. Acts performed after the objection has been lodged must be rescinded if a party requests this within ten days of the admission of the objection.
Can. 1452 §1 In a matter which concerns private persons exclusively, a judge can proceed only at the request of a party. In penal cases, however, and in other cases which affect the public good of the Church or the salvation of souls, once the case has been lawfully introduced, the judge can and must proceed ex officio.
§2 The judge can also supply for the negligence of the parties in bringing forward evidence or in opposing exceptions, whenever this is considered necessary in order to avoid a gravely unjust judgment, without prejudice to the provisions of can. 1600.
Can. 1453 Judges and tribunals are to ensure that, within the bounds of justice, all cases are brought to a conclusion as quickly as possible. They are to see to it that in the tribunal of first instance cases are not protracted beyond a year, and in the tribunal of second instance not beyond six months.
Can. 1455 §1 In a penal trial, the judges and tribunal assistants are bound to observe always the secret of the office; in a contentious trial, they are bound to observe it if the revelation of any part of the acts of the process could be prejudicial to the parties.
§2 They are also obliged to maintain permanent secrecy concerning the discussion held by the judges before giving their judgment, and concerning the various votes and opinions expressed there, without prejudice to the provisions of can. 1609 §4.
§3 Indeed, the judge can oblige witnesses, experts, and the parties and their advocates or procurators, to swear an oath to observe secrecy. This may be done if the nature of the case or of the evidence is such that revelation of the acts or evidence would put at risk the reputation of others, or give rise to quarrels, or cause scandal or have any similar untoward consequence.
Can. 1457 §1 Judges can be punished by the competent authority with appropriate penalties, not excluding the loss of office, if, though certainly and manifestly competent, they refuse to give judgment; if, with no legal support, they declare themselves competent and hear and determine cases; if they breach the law of secrecy; or if, through deceit or serious negligence, they cause harm to the litigants.
CHAPTER II : THE ORDERING OF THE HEARING
Can. 1458 Cases are to be heard in the order in which they were received and entered in the register, unless some case from among them needs to be dealt with more quickly than others. This is to be stated in a special decree which gives supporting reasons.
§2 Apart from the cases mentioned in §1, exceptions seeking a delay especially those which concern persons and the manner of trial, are to be proposed before the joinder of the issue, unless they emerge only after it. They are to be decided as soon as possible.
§2 Where the exception concerns relative noncompetence and the judge pronounces himself competent, his decision does not admit of appeal. However, a plaint of nullity and a total reinstatement are not prohibited.
Can. 1462 §1 Exceptions to the effect that an issue has become an adjudged matter or has been agreed between the parties, and those other peremptory exceptions which are said to put an end to the suit, are to be proposed and examined before the joinder of the issue. Whoever raises them subsequently is not to be rejected, but will be ordered to pay the costs unless it can be shown that the objection was not maliciously delayed.
§2 Such counter actions are to be dealt with at the same grade of trial and simultaneously with the principal action, unless it is necessary to deal with them separately or the judge considers this procedure more opportune.
Can. 1464 Questions concerning the guarantee of judicial expenses or the grant of free legal aid which has been requested from the very beginning of the process, and other similar matters, are normally to be settled before the joinder of the issue
CHAPTER III : TIME LIMITS AND POSTPONEMENTS
§2 After hearing the parties, or at their request, the judge can, for a just reason, extend before they expire times fixed by himself or agreed by the parties. These times can never validly be shortened without the consent of the parties.
CHAPTER IV : THE PLACE OF TRIAL
Can. 1469 §1 A judge who is forcibly expelled from his territory or prevented from exercising jurisdiction there, can exercise his jurisdiction and deliver judgment outside the territory. The diocesan Bishop is, however, to be informed of the matter.
§2 Apart from the circumstances mentioned in §1, the judge, for a just reason and after hearing the parties, can go outside his own territory to gather evidence. This is to be done with the permission of, and in a place designated by, the diocesan Bishop of the place to which he goes.
CHAPTER V : THOSE WHO MAY BE ADMITTED TO THE COURT AND THE MANNER OF COMPILING AND PRESERVING THE ACTS
Can. 1470 §1 Unless particular law prescribes otherwise, when cases are being heard before the tribunal, only those persons are to be present whom the law or the judge decides are necessary for the hearing of the case.
§2 The judge can with appropriate penalties take to task all who, while present at a trial, are gravely lacking in the reverence and obedience due to the tribunal. He can, moreover, suspend advocates and procurators from exercising their office in ecclesiastical tribunals.
Can. 1471 If a person to be interrogated uses a language unknown to the judge or the parties, an interpreter, appointed by the judge and duly sworn, can be employed in the case. Declarations are to be committed to writing in the original language, and a translation is to be added. An interpreter is also to be used if a deaf and dumb person must be interrogated, unless the judge prefers that replies to the questions he has asked be given in writing.
Can. 1473 Whenever the signature of parties or witnesses is required in judicial acts, and the party or witness is unable or unwilling to sign, this is to be noted in the acts. At the same time the judge and the notary are to certify that the act was read verbatim to the party or witness, and that the party or witness was either unable or unwilling to sign.
§2 If the acts are in a language unknown to the higher tribunal, they are to be translated into another language known to it. Suitable precautions are to be taken to ensure that the translation is accurate.
TITLE IV: THE PARTIES IN THE CASE
CHAPTER I : THE PLAINTIFF AND THE RESPONDENT
§2 If the judge considers that the rights of minors are in conflict with the rights of the parents, guardians or curators, or that these cannot sufficiently protect the rights of the minors, the minors are to stand before the court through a guardian or curator assigned by the judge.
§3 However, in cases concerning spiritual matters and matters linked with the spiritual, if the minors have the use of reason, they can plead and respond without the consent of parents or guardians; indeed, if they have completed their fourteenth year, they can stand before the court on their own behalf; otherwise, they do so through a curator appointed by the judge.
§4 Those barred from the administration of their goods and those of infirm mind can themselves stand before the court only to respond concerning their own offences, or by order of the judge. In other matters they must plead and respond through their curators.
Can. 1479 A guardian or curator appointed by a civil authority can be admitted by an ecclesiastical judge, after he has consulted, if possible, the diocesan Bishop of the person to whom the guardian or curator has been given. If there is no such guardian or curator, or it is not seen fit to admit the one appointed, the judge is to appoint a guardian or curator for the case.
§2 In a case of absence or negligence of the representative, the Ordinary himself, either personally or through another, can stand before the court in the name of juridicial persons subject to his authority.
CHAPTER II : PROCURATORS AND ADVOCATES
Can. 1481 §1 A party can freely appoint an advocate and procurator for him or herself. Apart from the cases stated in §§2 and 3, however, a party can plead and respond personally, unless the judge considers the services of a procurator or advocate to be necessary.
Can. 1483 The procurator and advocate must have attained their majority and be of good repute. The advocate is also to be a catholic unless the diocesan Bishop permits otherwise, a doctor in canon law or otherwise well qualified, and approved by the same Bishop.
§2 To prevent the extinction of a right, however, the judge can admit a procurator even though a mandate has not been presented; in an appropriate case, a suitable guarantee is to be given. However, the act lacks all force if the procurator does not present a mandate within the peremptory time limit to be prescribed by the judge.
Can. 1485 Without a special mandate, a procurator cannot validly renounce a case, an instance or any judicial act; nor can a procurator settle an action, bargain, promise to abide by an arbitrator's award, or in general do anything for which the law requires a special mandate.
Can. 1486 §1 For the dismissal of a procurator or advocate to have effect, it must be notified to them and, if the joinder of the issue has taken place, the judge and the other party must be notified of the dismissal.
Can. 1488 §1 Both the procurator and the advocate are forbidden to influence a suit by bribery, seek immoderate payment, or bargain with the successful party for a share of the matter in dispute. If they do so, any such agreement is invalid and they can be fined by the judge. Moreover, the advocate can be suspended from office and, if this is not a first offence, can be removed from the register of advocates by the Bishop in charge of the tribunal.
§2 The same sanctions can be imposed on advocates and procurators who fraudulently exploit the law by withdrawing cases from tribunals which are competent, so that they may be judged more favorably by other tribunals.
Can. 1489 Advocates and procurators who betray their office because of gifts or promises, or any other consideration, are to be suspended from the exercise of their profession, and be fined or punished with other suitable penalties.
Can. 1490 As far as possible, permanent advocates and procurators are to be appointed in each tribunal and to receive a salary from the tribunal. They are to exercise their office, especially in matrimonial cases, for parties who may wish to choose them.
TITLE V: ACTIONS AND EXCEPTIONS
CHAPTER I : ACTIONS AND EXCEPTIONS IN GENERAL
Can. 1492 §1 Every action is extinguished by prescription in accordance with the law, or in any other lawful way, with the exception of actions bearing on personal status, which are never extinguished.
Can. 1493 A plaintiff can bring several exceptions simultaneously against another person, concerning either the same matter or different matters, provided they are not in conflict with one another, and do not go beyond the competence of the tribunal that has been approached.
Can. 1494 §1 A respondent can institute a counter action against a plaintiff before the same judge and in the same trial, either by reason of the case's connection with the principal action, or with a view to removing or mitigating the plaintiff's plea.
Can. 1495 The counter action is to be proposed to the judge before whom the original action was initiated, even though he has been delegated for one case only, or is otherwise relatively noncompetent.
CHAPTER II : ACTIONS AND EXCEPTIONS IN PARTICULAR
Can. 1496 §1 A person who advances arguments, which are at least probable, to support a right to something held by another, and to indicate an imminent danger of loss of the object unless it is handed over for safekeeping, has a right to obtain from the judge the sequestration of the object in question.
Can. 1498 The sequestration of an object, and restraint on the exercise of a right, can in no way be decreed if the loss which is feared can be otherwise repaired, and a suitable guarantee is given that it will be repaired.
Can. 1499 The judge who grants the sequestration of an object, or the restraint on the exercise of a right, can first impose on the person to whom the grant is made an undertaking to repay any loss if the right is not proven.
Can. 1500 In matters concerning the nature and effect of an action for possession, the provisions of the civil law of the place where the thing to be possessed is situated, are to be observed.