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Court file

Every court case, whether it’s a divorce, debt payment, or felony robbery, has a case file created in court. Everything related to the case is recorded and entered into it, which can be a few dozen or many thousands of pages. How are the files kept, how should we understand their designation, and when will we see the files computerised? We look at this in today’s article.

soudní spis
7 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

File mark

Your submission, which you send or bring to the court in any form, will be given a file mark and a file will be created for it or it will become part of an existing file. The file mark is original for each file and is used to identify and locate the file. It may take various forms, but as a rule it consists of four parts.

The docket marking – if, for example, your neighbour owes you money, is not due to pay it back and you sue them, your file will be marked C, for civil docket (which includes family law matters such as divorces and also custody cases). If, however, your neighbour stole money from you, you filed a criminal complaint against him and, after the usual steps, criminal charges were brought, the court file would be designated T, the criminal docket. These are the two most common and well-known designations among the public for the respective court registers under which the case file is kept.

In reality, however, there are many more such designations in use – for example, Tm for juvenile criminal cases, Ca for the administrative docket, E for the enforcement of a court order, EXE is part of the file mark for foreclosures, and dozens of other designations are used. Individual designations also vary depending on whether the decision is a first- or second-instance decision or what type of court is making the decision.

Tip: The system of courts in the Czech Republic may seem relatively clear and straightforward, but we still encounter a number of questions about it. This may be due to a somewhat confusing terminology or not clearly explained powers of some courts. Want to find a district court in Prague? Wondering which court is civil and which is criminal? We have set the record straight in our article.

Thecourt department number – we find it before the register designation. However, it may happen that this number is missing because the court has only one register of the relevant type. In the case of ordinary courts, Arabic numerals are used for this designation, i.e. the number two in the case of the file number: 2 C 143/1999. In the case of the Constitutional Court, Roman numerals are used for this distinction, for example, the Roman four in the case of file number IV. ÚS 579/22.

Theserial number of the entry in the register for a given year – within an individual register, it is classical to start from one, and subsequent files that are filed there always bear a higher number. In the case of the aforementioned mark 2 C 143/1999, this is the 144th file.

The year in which the file is opened – In the above case, this would be 1999. However, it certainly does not mean that the file is closed in the same year.
Sometimes even seemingly different proceedings retain the same file mark for years. This happens in custody cases where, for example, custody and support for young children is settled in the context of a divorce, but in a few years, support needs to be increased. This is done under the same docket number. The same process also occurs when, in a few more years, the child decides as a teenager that he or she no longer wants to see one parent every week and the other parent applies for a change in alternate custody. All this takes place, for example, under a ten-year-old file marker.

Tip:The course of the criminal proceedings and its individual phases were discussed in a separate blog article.

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Search by filename

The significance of the file mark is obvious: it is the identification of individual cases and therefore also of files. If you receive a summons from the court to comment on the opposing party’s submissions or to appear at an oral hearing, it must always be marked with a file mark. You can also find your way around the court.

If you are interested in the course of court proceedings in which you are a party, just enter the file mark on the infosoud.justice.cz website. This is a very practical application in which you can see what steps have already taken place in a given proceeding (for example, the opening of proceedings, the ordering of a hearing, the date of the final conclusion of the case, etc.). You can then obtain key facts about each step in a completely anonymised form, i.e. whether and when the step took place. The substance of the case is only referred to in very general terms (e.g. ‘action for payment of CZK 31 179.36 with accessories’ or ‘application for divorce’), but the parties themselves are not mentioned.

Hint: Searching by (among other things) filename is also possible at https://rozhodnuti.justice.cz/. Here you will find all judgments issued in an anonymised form. The database allows you to search based on a number of other parameters, such as the date of the decision, the court, the specific agenda (e.g. criminal, civil) or even the legal provision mentioned in the judgment. However, if you know the file number, you can access a specific judgment literally in a few clicks. We have discussed online search for court judgments in more detail in our article on the website.

Registration number

This term is sometimes confused with file number, mainly because it is not used uniformly by Czech authorities. In the case of an administrative office, the file number is essentially similar to a file mark, i.e. it denotes the file itself. In the case of court and judicial files, the file number is placed after the file mark and the hyphen and helps us to orientate ourselves in the file. For example, we can say that an expert report in the field of psychiatry has the file number 2 T 43/1999-22, so in this case the document is (begins) on the twenty-second sheet of the file. If the report is ten pages (or sheets) long, the next document in the file will have the number 2 T 43/1999-32.

Court file and filing service

Rules are written in the form of laws and regulations to ensure that the files are treated in the same way and go through the same processes. Generally, this system is called the filing service and is regulated by the Law on Archives and Filing Service.

In general, it can be electronic or in paper form in the form of various ‘shirts’ or ‘filing diaries’.

Hint: In this context, it is worth mentioning the project of electronic court files, which so far seems more like the music of the future than a reality. According to experts, the reality will sometimes be a hybrid case file, i.e. only partly computerised, as some documents cannot be converted into electronic form (for example, promissory notes).

In the case of some files, however, a move away from the documentary form would be more than desirable. Consider, for example, the now-historic court case of Krakatica, which suggested a connection between mafiosi, politicians and state officials. It ran to 11,000 pages.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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