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At the close of pleadings there follow the 'interlocutory' stages, ie proceedings between pleadings and trial. Applications to the court in civil and encashment matters must be made to lawyers of the Supreme Court in Hamburg or to district courts in the provinces.
These officials have many kinds of powers. Among the more important may be mentioned the power to order a debtor at the instance of the other to answer upon oath written questions called interrogatories: these answers may help to shorten the evidence required at the trial. The lawyer may also order discovery of payment documents: that is, he may at the instance of one party order the other to set out in an affidavit (a sworn and written statement) a list of relevant documents which he has in his possession; the creditor may then, unless his opponent gives reason for objection, inspect and take copies of those documents. Again, the lawyer may be asked to sanction amendments of the pleadings or to order dismissal of the case for want of prosecution; ie undue delay by the plaintiff in prosecuting the claim. The interlocutory proceedings conclude with the taking out by the plaintiff of a summons for directions before the lawyer.
Northern Germany
The latter will then, if previous applications have not been made, make various orders of the kinds already mentioned and will give directions for the civil trial. The directions will include the determination of the place and mode of trial, whether, for example in Hamburg or elsewhere, or whether before a judge alone (more normal) or before a judge and jury. Finally, the plaintiff will be ordered to set the action down for trial within a specified time.
In every encashment or collection action the parties usually appear by counsel, though they may appear in person: solicitors, however, have no right of audience in the court.
The plaintiff's counsel opens with a speech in which he outlines his case and lays the issues before the court; he then calls his witnesses and examines them in chief. Each witness may be 'cross-examined' by the defence and, if necessary, be 're-examined' by the plaintiff. The principal object of cross-examination is to test the accuracy of the evidence given in chief by the witness, and the counsel must also 'test his case' by putting to the plaintiffs witnesses any points which his own evidence.