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Statement Concerning Professional Courtesies

The following Statement Concerning Professional Courtesies was adopted at the 55th Annual General Meeting of the Canon Law Society of America in October 1993 for an experimental period of three years. It was revised at the conclusion of that time, and the following revised version was adopted at the 58th Annual General Meeting of the Society.

Part I - Principles of Representation
Part II - Professional Courtesies
Part III - Applicability
Resolution of Commitment

Principles Of Representation


Each party to a canonical dispute has a right to canonical representation whether of a procurator (proxy) or of an advocate (defender).


Each party is free to appoint representatives whether procurators or advocates. In cases where advocates are required by law, an advocate must be assigned by the court or church authority if a party has failed to select one personally.


Canonical representatives exercise a function of assisting in the resolution of disputes by clarifying and properly interpreting the facts, representing the interests and concerns of the party they represent, and thereby facilitating the functioning of the Church's system of justice and equity.


Communication between a party and the person's canonical representative and the work product of a canonical representative are privileged.

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Part II

Professional Courtesies

In light of the principles of representation, this Statement Concerning Professional Courtesies is adopted as a guide to canonists who are involved in a canonical dispute whether as a party or as a canonical representative.


Communication between the parties to a dispute should always be marked with professional and personal courtesy and respect. The purpose for such communication is to try to resolve the dispute, not worsen it.


If a party chooses a canonical representative who is not already on a list of advocates approved for the diocese, religious institute or comparable entity, the right to represent the party for the case is extended to the canonical representative if competency is evident.


The canonical representative of a party shall have access to all communications about the dispute which are available to the party being represented.


A party may request from the other party or parties to a dispute copies of all acts and proofs in their possession relevant to the dispute.

Copies of the requested documents shall be provided unless a party claims a document is not relevant to the dispute, or that it was intended as confidential and is not intended to be used as proof. If a document is withheld, care must always be taken that the right of defense always remain intact.

Expenses for the reproduction and delivery of copies shall be paid by the party who requests them.


Unless it is clear that all parties to a dispute have received a copy of a communication bearing on the dispute from a court, administrative body, or person involved in the resolution of the dispute, the party receiving this communication shall provide copies to all other parties to the dispute.


While using all canonical and just means to protect the rights and interests, a party or canonical representative should not use the canonical process to delay justice or to hinder the resolution of a dispute within an appropriate time.

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Part III


  1. This Statement Concerning Professional Courtesies is adopted as a guide to canonists who are involved in a canonical dispute whether as a party or as a canonical representative.
  2. The courtesies enumerated in this Statement are not a complete list of all the standards of expected behavior, but they are designed to provide a basis for establishing a working relationship between the parties to a dispute.
  3. These courtesies are applicable to canonical disputes whether the dispute follows the judicial, the administrative, the investigatory, or an informal dispute resolution process.
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We, the members of the Canon Law Society of America, adopt this Statement of Professional Courtesies and commit ourselves to observe the principles and courtesies enumerated herein insofar as possible.


Canon Law Society of America
58th Annual Business Meeting
St. Louis, Missouri
October 9, 1996

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