PROCEDURAL LAW: definition, objectives and how it works


This is a guide to procedural law. This guide explains what is procedural law, the objective of procedural law, and how procedural law works.

What is Procedural Law?

Procedural law is the branch of law that is a directory in nature. It deals with legal steps to which individuals shall comply when seeking a particular legal right against an individual or corporation in the court of law or any other organs established by law. Further, procedural law comprises the set of rules that govern the courts or any other organ established by law in dealing with the dispute.

The court needs to conform to the standards set up by procedural law during civil or criminal proceedings. These rules ensure fairness and consistency in the due process.

Generally procedural the law deals with and lays down ways and means by which substantive the law can be enforced.

Objectives of Procedural Law

The main objective of procedural law is to provide a guide to attain justice or any legal right.

Civil Procedure helps in making the availability of right clear through procedural rules. Procedural law assures individuals that the rights given by the substantial law are obtainable.

How Procedural Law Works

Generally, procedural law works as a servant of substantive law.

For example, if a person commits a tort or breach of contract, tort and contract are substantive law that provides only the rights and duties of individuals.

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Therefore, in order for that person to claim for his right on tort or contract, he must invoke procedural law into play.

Procedural law is there to guide him and the courts towards his right.

Procedural Law at Pre-trial Stage

The observance of procedural law is required even before the trial.

It is important to know, understand and observe a procedural aspect of the law right from the beginning.

At the pre-trial stage, procedural laws set the rules on preliminary matters to comply with before going to court like;

  1. issuing of a demand letter,
  2. parties to sue,
  3. where to sue (jurisdiction of courts)
  4. form and contents of documents to be used (pleadings),
  5. the time limitation for commencing a certain legal process example, time for the institution of the suit.

Procedural Law at Trial Stage

Procedural law proceeds to serve substantive law even at the trial stage.

Here procedural law acts as a conduit for accessing legal rights by providing rules on who may commence the proceedings

How the evidence should be adduced before the court.

Examination of witness.

how attendance of the parties and witnesses before the court can be procured (summons)

It guides how proceedings are to be recorded

it provides the framework of hearing of cases i.e. from pleadings stage, hearing stage, and judgment stage.

It guides how proceedings are to be recorded.

Procedural Law at Post-Trial Stage

Individuals enjoy the service of procedural law even after the trial.

During this stage, procedural law is working by guiding parties on how to execute and enforce the court’s judgments and decrees, how a winner of the case can claim the refund of the cost of the case (Bill of cost),

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it guides on how the aggrieved party can seek remedies either through appeal, review, or revision.

It is also provided on how these remedies can be exhausted.

Final Remarks

In the case of Iron and Steelwares Ltd. V. C.W. Martyr & Co. (1956) 23 E.A.C.A 175 on page 177 court stated that “procedural law is intended to serve as the hand-maidens of justice, not to defeat it.”

This means, in the course of seeking justice, an individual might fail to comply with certain rules of procedure; In this case, that individual must suffer legal consequences.

For Example, if an individual failed to comply with the rules of pleadings then his case will be struck out, in the light of the above court statement; the individual may amend the pleading and reinstitute his case.

In other words, for the interest of justice, procedural law provides for remedying procedures in case an individual or court has failed to comply with a prescribed legal procedure.

Isack Kimaro

Editor-in-chief and founder of sherianajamii.com. Holder of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Mzumbe University and Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law school of Tanzania. Lawyer by profession and blogger by passion.

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