Enforcing Contracts in


Below is a detailed summary of the efficiency of contract enforcement. It follows the evolution of a sale of goods dispute, tracking the time, cost and number of procedures involved from the moment the plaintiff files the lawsuit until actual payment.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 189 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2013.

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  • Court Name: Tokyo District Court
  • Claim Value LCU: 7591243
  • City: Tokyo
Time (days) 360
Filing and service 20
Trial and judgment 280
Enforcement of judgment 60
Cost (% of claim) 32.2
Attorney cost (% of claim) 18.5
Court cost (% of claim) 13.3
Enforcement Cost (% of claim) 0.4
Procedures (number) 31
Filing and service
1      Plaintiff requests payment: Plaintiff or his lawyer asks Defendant orally or in writing to comply with the contract.
2      Plaintiff’s hiring of lawyer: Plaintiff hires a lawyer to represent him before the court.
*      Plaintiff’s filing of summons and complaint: Plaintiff files his summons and complaint with the court, orally or in writing.
*      Plaintiff’s payment of court fees: Plaintiff pays court duties, stamp duties, or any other type of court fee.
3      Registration of court case: The court administration registers the lawsuit or court case. This includes assigning a reference number to the lawsuit or court case.
*      Assignment of court case to a judge: The court case is assigned to a specific judge through a random procedure, automated system, ruling of an administrative judge, court officer, etc.
4      Court scrutiny of summons and complaint: A judge examines Plaintiff's summons and complaint for formal requirements.
*      Mailing of summons and complaint: Court or process server, including (private) bailiff, mails summons and complaint to Defendant.
*      Application for pre-judgment attachment: Plaintiff submits an application in writing for the attachment of Defendant's property prior to judgment. (see assumption 5)
*      Decision on pre-judgment attachment: The judge decides whether to grant Plaintiff’s request for pre-judgment attachment of Defendant’s property and notifies Plaintiff and Defendant of the decision. This step may include requesting that Plaintiff submit guarantees or bonds to secure Defendant
5      Guarantees securing attached property: Plaintiff typically submits guarantees or bonds to secure Defendant against possible damages to attached property. (see assumption 5)
6      Pre-judgment attachment.: Defendant's property is attached prior to judgment. Attachment is either physical or achieved by registering, marking, debiting or separating assets. (see assumption 5)
Trial and judgment
7      Defendant’s filing of defense or answer to Plaintiff’s claim: Defendant files a written pleading which includes his defense or answer on the merits of the case. Defendant's written answer may or may not include witness statements, expert statements, the documents Defendant relies on as evidence and the legal authori
8      Plaintiff’s written response to Defendant's defense or answer: Plaintiff responds to Defendant’s defense or answer with a written pleading. Plaintiff's answer may or may not include a witness statements or expert (witness) statements.
9      Filing of pleadings: Plaintiff and Defendant file written pleadings and submissions with the court and transmit copies of the written pleadings or submissions to one another. The pleadings may or may not include witness statements or expert (witness) statements.
10      Adjournments: Court procedure is delayed because one or both parties request and obtain an adjournment to submit written pleadings.
*      Court appointment of independent expert: Judge appoints, either at the parties' request or at his own initiative, an independent expert to decide whether the quality of the goods Plaintiff delivered to Defendant is adequate. (see assumption 6-b of this case)
11      Notification of court-appointment of independent expert: The court notifies both parties that the court is appointing an independent expert. (see assumption 6-b of this case)
*      Delivery of expert report by court-appointed expert: The independent expert appointed by the court delivers his or her expert report to the court. (see assumption 6-b of this case)
12      Pre-trial conference on procedure: The judge meets with the parties to discuss procedural issues (for example which applications and motions parties intend to file, which documents parties intend to rely on, what will be presented as evidence the oral hearing or trial, etc.)
*      Setting of date for mediation hearing: The judge sets a date for a mediation hearing, sometimes also called a 'pre-trial conference,' and notifies the parties of the hearing date.
13      Mediation hearing: The judge during this informal meeting with the parties encourages them to settle the case. The judge acts as mediator. If the case cannot be settled, the judge may draft a pre-trial conference report, after which the case may be allocated to another judg
*      Setting of date(s) for oral hearing or trial: The judge sets the date(s) for the oral hearing or trial.
*      List of (expert) witnesses: The parties file a list of (expert) witnesses with the court. (see assumption 6-a)
14      Adjournments: Court proceedings are delayed because one or both parties request and obtain an adjournment to prepare for the oral hearing or trial.
15      Oral hearing (prevalent in civil law): The parties argue the merits of the case at an oral hearing before the judge. Witnesses and a court-appointed independent expert may be heard and questioned at the oral hearing.
*      Final arguments: The parties present their final factual and legal arguments to the court either by oral presentation or by a written submission.
16      Judgment date: The judge sets a date for delivery of the judgment.
17      Notification of judgment in court: The parties are notified of the judgment at a court hearing.
18      Writing of judgment: The judge produces a written copy of the judgment.
19      Court notification of availability of the written judgment: The court notifies the parties that the written judgment is available at the courthouse.
20      Plaintiff's receipt of a copy of written judgment: Plaintiff receives a copy of the written judgment.
21      Appeal period: By law, Defendant has the opportunity to appeal the judgment during a period specified in the law. Defendant decides not to appeal. Judgment becomes final the day the appeal period ends.
22      Reimbursement by Defendant of Plaintiff's court fees: The judgment obliges Defendant to reimburse Plaintiff for the court fees Plaintiff has advanced, because Defendant has lost the case.
Enforcement of judgment
*      Plaintiff’s hiring of lawyer: Plaintiff hires a lawyer to enforce the judgment or continues to be represented by a lawyer during the enforcement of judgment phase.
23      Plaintiff's approaching of court enforcement officer or (private) bailiff to enforce the judgment: To enforce the judgment, Plaintiff approaches a court enforcement officer such as a court bailiff or sheriff, or a private bailiff.
*      Plaintiff’s request for enforcement order: Plaintiff applies to the court to obtain the enforcement order ('seal' on judgment).
24      Plaintiff’s advancement of enforcement fees: Plaintiff pays the fees related to the enforcement of the judgment.
25      Attachment of enforcement order to judgment: The judge attaches the enforcement order (‘seal’) to the judgment.
*      Plaintiff’s request for physical enforcement: As Plaintiff fears that Defendant might physically resist the attachment of its movable goods, Plaintiff addresses a request to the judge or to the police authorities to obtain police assistance during the attachment of Defendant's movable goods.
26      Plaintiff’s identification of Defendant's assets for attachment: Plaintiff identifies Defendant's assets for attachment.
27      Attachment: Defendant’s movable goods are attached (physically or by registering, marking or separating assets).
28      Enforcement disputes before court: The enforcement of the judgment is delayed because Defendant opposes aspects of the enforcement process before the judge.
29      Sale through public auction: The Defendant’s movable property is sold at public auction.
30      Reimbursement of Plaintiff’s enforcement fees: Defendant reimburses Plaintiff's enforcement fees which Plaintiff had advanced previously.
31      Payment: Court orders that the proceeds of the public auction or the direct sale be delivered to Plaintiff.
* Not counted in the total number of procedures

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