Civil Procedures in Spain

4 April 2023 - Sonia Gumpert Melgosa | Michael Fries

Spain’s legal system is based on the civil law tradition as with many other EU countries. Civil law systems are codified, which means that there are comprehensive, continuously updated legal codes.

Michael Fries Abogado & Rechtsanwalt +34 91 319 96 86

Spanish procedural law and its judicial system are thus principally established through these specific codes or laws; in this case, the most relevant are the Spanish Law on Civil Procedure, EU procedural law and the Spanish Organic Law on Judicial Power.

Spanish civil courts are mainly organised by territory, competence and amount, and generally divided into three levels: unipersonal courts at the first instance (with only one judge); multipersonal courts at the second instance (these courts have panels of judges which rule as one body) which handle appeals against first instance judgements; and at the third level, there are the High Courts of Justice, the Spanish Supreme Court and the Spanish Constitutional Court.

Ordinary proceedings are generally divided into several stages: the claimant files a statement of claim, the defendant files its defence, a preliminary hearing is held, and the actual trial concludes with a ruling. The cost of the proceedings is usually borne by the losing party. This amount includes any corresponding court fees as well as lawyers’ and court representatives’ professional fees.

Alternatives to judicial proceedings include arbitration and voluntary mediation. These processes are regulated by the Spanish Laws on Arbitration and Mediation as well as regional laws. However, these routes still lack prestige in Spain.

A detailed explanation of civil proceedings in Spain can be found here (Litigation & Dispute Resolution Laws and Regulations Spain 2023).