Inter partes is a Latin phrase that literally translated means 'between the parties.' It is often used by attorneys and judges to refer to situations in which both sides involved in a particular dispute are present. It can also be used to define the drafting of contracts that are between two entities.
In many jurisdictions, lawsuits or other court proceedings cannot happen unless all parties to it have been properly notified of the time, place, and circumstances. This is so that all individuals involved have an opportunity to have their sides heard. Notification is normally given by serving each one with a summons, or warning, that he should appear in court to defend allegations being made against him.
Any judgment made during an inter partes hearing normally binds all parties that have been served, subject to any appeals that might be available. This allows judges to render decisions that can be applied to certain situations without having to hear multiple lawsuits. This helps the court system work fairly and effectively, since everyone has a chance to have their voice heard.
Ex parte communication is when only one side has a chance to have the facts of his case heard. Most jurisdictions agree that this is unbalanced and unfair. This means that it is only allowed under extreme circumstances. In many cases, there can be sanctions given to judges who hear only one side, rather than allowing both parties to present their case.
Contracts between two parties can sometimes be considered an informal type of inter partes transaction. This is because there is normally a negotiation between both sides before the document is actually signed. Each person involved must be present and agree to the terms and conditions. He also reserves the right to have an attorney look over the instrument, or be present when it is formally executed.
In many areas, people involved in litigation may not directly contact one another, but must instead speak to the attorney of record, if one exists. This lawyer must also usually submit copies of all documents filed with the court to the opposing counsel. This type of inter partes communications ensures all parties involved are aware of what is going on, and this can often facilitate a settlement before the trial date.
Inter partes communications is an important concept that keeps many court systems operating fairly for all concerned. Following this doctrine ensures both sides can be represented equitably. This can result in a final verdict that serves the best interest of the court, and the citizens within its jurisdiction.