A Small Digital Step in Justice: The Digital Court Announcement Board in Spain

21 May 2021 - Sonia Gumpert Melgosa

On 1 June 2021, the Spanish justice system took a step in the process of modernisation and digitalisation: it began operating its Court Edict Announcement Board (Tablón Edictal Judicial Único or “TEJU”).

Notification by edict is, in summary, the public manner of notification when a personal notification fails. It is performed by including the paper version of the judicial ruling on the court’s announcement board. Its days were, thus, numbered. As of 1 June, all edicts are published in one, single digital place: the TEJU. This was foreseen in regulations since December 2018 and implemented by recent Royal Decree 37/2021 of 11 May for its immediate start-up.

The TEJU is an electronic publication that is now included in the Official State Gazette (Boletín del Estado or “BOE”) in a new supplement specifically created for this purpose. The supplement has two sections: one for general court edicts and the second, for those of an individual nature. The decisions published on the TEJU are those decisions that, by legal provision, must be published in the form of an edict (for example, auctions) and those procedural communications that must be published in the BOE or in autonomous community gazettes, and are published in an abbreviated form in accordance with the legal procedural previsions.

Remittance by judicial bodies and processing by the BOE agency by way of automatic systems on a web portal guarantee the authenticity of the documents to be published. Access to the TEJU supplement is free through the electronic headquarters of the BOE for a period of four months from publication. Once this period has elapsed, published edicts may only be accessed by using the corresponding verification code and these are only provided, after the period of publication, to the interested parties or their representatives, the judicial bodies, prosecution and Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo). The conservation, storage and processing of this information, along with its recovery and indexing, are also automated pursuant to mandatory data protection regulations.

The TEJU is, undoubtedly, a tool for improvement in the management and organisation of procedural announcements. It is also, consequently, a tool to centralise and organise the information and irrefutably guarantee the recorded date of publication of the edicts, an important piece of information for the calculation of procedural terms. However, it is only a tiny step on the long road to modernisation and digitalisation to be travelled by our obsolete justice administration, whose technological delay today is more evident than ever today due to the digital transformation that the pandemic has accelerated in all (other) economic and social sectors.