Imperial Civil Courts
Small claims cases are usually dealt with under Local Law, although cases that take place on Imperial territory are handled by the Imperial Civil Courts system. Such cases almost always occur in starports, and the largest starports maintain Imperial Judges with minor titles (knights or baronets) to handle them.
Major civil cases require a tribunal of three or more nobles, while a single judge can hear ordinary cases. Imperial Judges hearing a civil case must have no vested interest in either side. This can be difficult in cases involving megacorporations, as most major noble families are heavily invested in almost every megacorporation. Civil court justices, like their criminal court counterparts, are advised by a civil legate (a member of the Imperial Bar Association if they are not themselves licensed to practice civil law.
Imperial Civil Courts are adversarial – two sides appear before an impartial Imperial Judge or a tribunal of Imperial Judges. The individual or entity that brings the suit is known as the plaintiff, and the individual or entity sued is known as the defendant. Both sides retain specialists in civil law recognised by the Imperial Bar Association, known as advocates. Each side may present evidence in support of its case and call witnesses. These witnesses may testify by deposition rather than in person, if the convening body allows it. The court itself may also call witnesses, if it feels the need. Investigators with special qualifications may be appointed if the evidence requires special knowledge to interpret or analyse. The Imperial Civil Courts system uses the "Clear and convincing proof" standard, also known as the "Balance of Probabilities" standard, for deciding cases, a less stringent arrangement than the "Beyond reasonable doubt" standard used by the Imperial Criminal Courts system.
Like criminal verdicts, civil verdicts are final but are subject to revision under certain circumstances. Damages imposed by a civil court are purely monetary and are limited to restitution; Imperial law does not recognize the concept of punitive damages. Civil courts cannot impose prison terms or capital punishment, unless a party to a dispute earns a criminal citation for contempt of court.