For several years there has been a need to unify judicial procedures at a national level. This was not only requested by attorneys, but also by the parties themselves in the trials and even by the judges and their staff as they realized that the judicial lag was increasing every year.
Through the Decree by which articles 16, 17 and 73 of the Mexican Constitution were amended, in the areas of Civil Justice, published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on September 15th, 2017, the Congress of the Union was granted the mandate to promulgate a single legislation in civil and family procedural matters, which according to the transitory articles of such constitutional reform should have been done within 180 days counted after the day on which the mentioned decree was published.
After more than 50 meetings and a process of joint analysis with judges, professional associations, civil society organizations and different groups, on April 11th, 2023, the United Commissions of Justice and Second Legislative Studies of the Senate unanimously approved the draft of the National Code of Civil and Family Procedures (“CNPCF”). The following day, the draft was also unanimously approved by the plenary of the Senate and forwarded to the Chamber of Deputies.
Given that all parliamentary groups have worked together for the elaboration of the CNPCF, it is expected that it will be published by April 30 at the latest, to comply with the order of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.
The homologation of procedural norms in civil and family matters will facilitate people’s access to judicial proceedings of this nature, which represent about 70 percent of the total number of trials in our country, as well as to combat the delays that are present in the day-to-day administration of justice.
Throughout its 1,191 articles distributed among 10 books, the CNPCF reduces procedural formalities and favors orality, which implies the simplification of procedures to guarantee access to justice in less time. In addition, the reality of different vulnerable groups is contemplated, guaranteeing equitable procedures with a gender perspective.
New procedures were also introduced for marriage, divorce, adoption, parental authority, custody, and alimony, as well as the possibility of filing trials online and the use of electronic signatures.
Among the innovations and progress in the administration of justice that the CNPCF includes are elements of restorative justice in family matters, which implies that the parties recognize the existence of a conflict, assume their responsibility, and participate in both the reparation of damages and the reorganization of the family dynamics, except for cases of sexual violence against children and teenagers.
To comply with this restorative justice, the parties may suspend the trial proceedings for up to 3 months, leaving in force the precautionary, provisional or protective measures that have already been issued in the trial, or else, without the suspension of the judicial proceeding, the parties are able to apply these restorative justice mechanisms.
It is important to mention that the CNPCF does not force the parties in family matters to go through the restorative justice procedure to have access to a family trial.
On the other hand, in accordance with the international agenda, respect for human rights is guaranteed and priority is given to the non-revictimization of women, children and teenagers in cases of violence and abuse.
The figure of the Social Representative is also added, with functions analogous to those of the Agent of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The books that compose the CNPCF are the following:
- FIRST BOOK: “On the System for the Delivery of Justice in Civil and Family Matters”.
- SECOND BOOK: “On Civil and Family Oral Proceedings”.
- BOOK THREE: “On Civil Justice”.
- FOURTH BOOK: “Family Justice”.
- FIFTH BOOK: “On Universal Judgments”.
- SIXTH BOOK: “On Collective Actions”.
- BOOK SEVENTH: “On Appeals”.
- EIGHTH BOOK: “On Digital Justice”.
- NINTH BOOK: “On the Judgment and its Enforcement”.
- TENTH BOOK: “On International Proceedings”.
Once the CNPCF is published in the Official Gazette of the Federation, the Chambers of Deputies and Senators, as well as the Local Congresses must make a declaration, upon request of the Judicial Branch of the Federation and the Judicial Branches of the States, respectively, for purposes of the entry into force of the CNPCF, which must occur no later than April 1st, 2027.
Roberto Alejandro Altamirano Fuentes
Marcos Fabian Castro Cano