Answer ... The following are the steps leading up to a trial.
Pleadings: A suit is instituted before the appropriate court in the appropriate jurisdiction by the plaintiff. The plaint filed by the plaintiff consists of facts, grounds, claims, arguments and relief sought, along with supporting documentary evidence. The plaint must comply with the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. If the infringement suit is filed in the commercial jurisdiction of the high courts vested with such jurisdiction, additional requirements prescribed under the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by the Commercial Courts Act, must be met. The plaint will be accompanied by separate applications seeking relief of temporary injunction or ex parte ad interim injunction, appointment of a local commissioner and other such relief.
The court will consider the applications and issue necessary orders. In exceptional cases the court can order an ex parte ad interim injunction on the first day of the hearing where the plaintiff proves the following, based on the documents available on record:
- There is a prima facie case;
- The balance of convenience is in its favour; and
- Irreparable loss and injury will be caused without an injunction.
Pursuant to institution of the suit, if the court prima facie finds merit in the plaintiff’s claims, it can issue a court notice to the defendant to appear before the court on a given date. Thereafter, a copy of the plaint is served on the defendant. On receiving the notice, the defendant can appear before the court and seek time to file a written reply, and may make appropriate applications for suitable relief. The plaintiff may then reply to the defendant in writing.
Admission and denial of documents: At this stage the parties must produce before the court all documents in their possession on which they intend to rely. Thereafter, the parties must notify the court as to whether they admit or deny the documents filed by the other side. Pursuant to this, the court will mark the exhibits accordingly.
Framing of issues: Based on the pleadings filed by both parties, the documents and the preliminary hearing, the court will frame the main issues to be dealt with.
Discovery (optional): Discovery is an optional process whereby a party may obtain information or documents from the opposing party before trial, through a request from the court. At this stage, depositions, requests for admission and requests for the production of documents, objects and entry may be filed.
Evidence: At the evidence stage, the parties must provide evidence and confirm the veracity and genuineness of the same by filing an affidavit to that effect under oath.
Examination and cross-examination of witnesses: Each party shall record witness statements on its behalf. The counsel of other parties are entitled to cross-examine/question the witness. An expert witness may be asked to appear to validate the parties’ arguments.
Final arguments: At this stage, each party’s counsel presents its case, with supporting arguments, evidence and precedents. Written arguments or submissions may also be provided to the court at the discretion of the court.
Judgment: The court then pronounces its judgment based on the material before it.