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Civil Law - To Sue or Not to Sue

civil law in mexicoCivil Law in Mexico... it is by far, a less litigious society than its neighbors to the north.  The rule here is that it is far better to negotiate than litigate. Here’s why.

The Court Procedures in Mexico are very different.

In the U.S. and Canada, the plaintiff’s lawyer files a complaint and the defendant’s lawyer files a response. The two attorneys go through the process of "discovery" and then the case is argued before a judge (and jury) using evidence and witnesses. A decision is made and “awards” are made which can be significant, including costs, damages, special damages and punitive damages.

In Mexico, the plaintiff files a complaint providing written evidence with supporting documents and statements from witnesses. The defendant files a response, again in writing, with supporting documentation and witness statements. The judge reviews the submissions, asks for more evidence if he deems it necessary, and then renders a decision. There is no discovery process and lawyers are not allowed to be present when either party or witnesses are called in to make statements.

Based on the decision, awards are made for damages but they are much smaller. There are no special or punitive damages and each party pays their own fees and costs.

Litigation is expensive, a long process and judgments are often difficult to enforce, even against a solvent defendant. Judgments can be contested in a separate “Amparo” proceeding which can take several years. An “Interlocutory Appeal” can be lodged during the proceeding which will also lengthen the process (and the cost).


 Mary & Brooks Wingrave (Focus alumni living part time in Lake Chapala)
“The Focus on Mexico program lived up to all our expectations and more. We had about 30 people on our tour and about half of us are still friends to this day.

"We were boarded at a lovely local hotel where the conferences were held - on law, immigration, health, real estate, insurance, plus much more. We couldn't believe the information we received. It was just fabulous. We also had the opportunity to talk to others that have already settled in the area; this was very informative. There were lots of fun times, we visited great restaurants, learned important facts about the villages and how to operate within a Mexican community.

"You cannot describe the area to anyone - it is so unique. We can say we recommend whole-heartedly that if you are looking for a place to retire to or to just spend the winters in, that you take a good look and join a Focus on Mexico tour. The program was extremely valuable and I would highly recommend it to anyone remotely interested in Mexico. We are definitely glad we went and you will be to.

"In 2006 we bought our own home in a gated communty which we just love and we are very pleased that we took the initial step and came down with Focus on Mexico.”


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