Canon Text
Canon 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 judgement, unless the
Apostolic See has indicated to him that it has reserved the case to itself.
Canon 1418.Every tribunal has the right to call on other tribunals for assistance in instructing a case or in communicating acts.
Canon 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.

§2 If the case concerns the rights or temporal goods of a juridical person represented by the Bishop, the appeal tribunal is to judge in first instance.
Canon 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.

§2 The judicial Vicar constitutes one tribunal with the Bishop, but cannot judge cases which the Bishop reserves to himself.

§3 The judicial Vicar can be given assistants, who are called associate judicial Vicars or ‘Vice-officiales’.

§4 The judicial Vicar and the associate judicial Vicars must be priests of good repute, with a doctorate or at least a licentiate in canon law, and not less than thirty years of age.

§5 When the see is vacant, they do not cease from office, nor can they be removed by the diocesan Administrator. On the coming of the new Bishop, however, they need to be confirmed in office.
Canon 1421.§1 In each diocese the Bishop is to appoint diocesan judges, who are to be clerics.

§2 The Episcopal Conference can permit that lay persons also be appointed judges.
Where necessity suggests, one of these can be chosen in forming a college of Judges.

§3 Judges are to be of good repute, and possess a doctorate, or at least a licentiate, in canon law.
Canon 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.
Canon 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 can. 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.

§2 The tribunals mentioned in §1 can be established for all cases, or for some types of cases only.
Canon 1424.In any trial a sole judge can associate with himself two assessors as advisers; they may be clerics or lay persons of good repute.
Canon 1425.§1 The following matters are reserved to a collegiate tribunal of three judges, any contrary custom being reprobated:

1° contentious cases: a) concerning the bond of sacred ordination; b) concerning the bond of marriage, without prejudice to the provisions of cann. 1686 and 1688;

2° penal cases: a) for offences which can carry the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state; b) concerning the imposition or declaration of an excommunication.

§2 The Bishop can entrust the more difficult cases or those of greater importance to the judgement of three or of five judges.

§3 The judicial Vicar is to assign judges in order by rotation to hear the individual cases, unless in particular cases the Bishop has decided otherwise.

§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.

§5 Once judges have been designated, the judicial Vicar is not to replace them, except for a very grave reason, which must be expressed in a decree.
Canon 1426.§1 A collegiate tribunal must proceed in a collegiate fashion and give its judgement by majority vote.

§2 As far as possible, the judicial Vicar or an associate judicial Vicar must preside over the collegiate tribunal.
Canon 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 non-religious juridical person, it is the diocesan tribunal which judges at first instance.
Canon 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.

§2 The Bishop can approve clerics or lay persons for the role of auditor. They are to be persons conspicuous for their good conduct, prudence and learning.

§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.
Canon 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 judgement in writing. For a just reason the presiding judge can substitute another person in the place of the ‘ponens’.
Canon 1430.A promotor 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 promotor is bound by office to safeguard the public good.
Canon 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 promotor of justice, or this is clearly necessary from the nature of things.

§2 If the promotor of justice has intervened at an earlier instance of a trial, this intervention is presumed to be necessary at a subsequent instance.
Canon 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.
Canon 1433.In cases in which the presence of the promotor 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 fulfil their role at least before the judgement.
Canon 1434.Unless otherwise expressly provided:

1° whenever the law directs that the judge is to hear the parties or either of them, the promotor of justice and the defender of the bond are also to be heard if they are present;

2° whenever, at the submission of a party, the judge is required to decide some matter, the submission of the promotor of justice or of the defender of the bond engaged in the trial has equal weight.
Canon 1435.It is the Bishop’s responsibility to appoint the promotor 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.
Canon 1436.§1 The same person can hold the office of promotor of justice and defender of the bond, although not in the same case.

§2 The promotor of justice and the defender of the bond can be appointed for all cases, or for individual cases. They can be removed by the Bishop for a just reason.
Canon 1437.§1 A notary is to be present at every hearing, so much so that the acts are null unless signed by the notary.

§2 Acts drawn up by notaries constitute public proof.
Canon 1438.Without prejudice to the provision of can. 1444 §1, n. 1:

1° an appeal from the tribunal of a suffragan Bishop is to the metropolitan tribunal, without prejudice to the provisions of can. 1439.

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.
Canon 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.

§2 Even apart from the cases mentioned in §1, the Episcopal Conference can, with the approval of the Apostolic See, constitute one or more tribunals of second instance.

§3 In respect of the second instance tribunals mentioned in §§1-2, 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.
Canon 1440.If competence by reason of the grade of trial, in accordance with the provisions of cann. 1438 and 1439, is not observed, then the non-competence of the judge is absolute.
Canon 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 judgement in first instance in accordance with can. 1425 §4, the second instance tribunal is to act collegially.
Canon 1442.The Roman Pontiff is the supreme judge for the whole catholic world. He gives judgement either personally, or through the ordinary tribunals of the Apostolic
See, or through judges whom he delegates.
Canon 1443.The ordinary tribunal constituted by the Roman Pontiff to receive appeals is the Roman Rota.
Canon 1444.The Roman Rota judges:

1° in second instance, cases which have been judged by ordinary tribunals of first instance and have been referred to the Holy See by a lawful appeal;

2° in third or further instance, cases which have been processed by the Roman Rota itself or by any other tribunal, unless there is question of an adjudged matter.

§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.
Canon 1445.§1 The supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura hears:

1° plaints of nullity, petitions for total reinstatement and other recourses against rotal judgements;

2° recourses in cases affecting the status of persons, which the Roman Rota has refused to admit to a new examination;

3° exceptions of suspicion and other cases against Auditors of the Roman Rota by reason of things done in the exercise of their office;

4° the conflicts of competence mentioned in can. 1416.

§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.

§3 This Supreme Tribunal is also competent:

1° to oversee the proper administration of justice and, should the need arise, to take notice of advocates and procurators;

2° to extend the competence of tribunals;

3° to promote and approve the establishment of the tribunals mentioned in cann.
1423 and 1439.

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