Coronavirus – Civil Proceedings: Spain Partially Resumes Court Proceedings

14 April 2020 - Sonia Gumpert Melgosa

On  14 April 2020, the Spanish Ministry of Justice issued a decree in agreement with the General Council of the Judiciary (Consejo General del Poder Judicial) ordering the complete opening of the electronic court system (LexNET). This means that, from 15 April 2020, complaints, appeals and all types of legal briefs can once again be submitted to the court electronically.

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This is the first step towards a return to normality in the field of judicial administration, after the extension of the state of alarm for another 15 days by virtue of Royal Decree 487/2020 of 10 April.

After the civil proceedings had come to a complete standstill, except in emergencies, judicial operations are now being resumed with restrictions and applying special protective measures (distribution of disinfectant, protective gloves and masks, keeping a safe distance). According to the Ministry of Justice, this is the first step to the full resumption of judicial administration activities, provided that the health authorities’ requirements allow it.

The opening of the electronic court system attempts to prevent the expected avalanche of trials after four weeks of standstill. In this context, the Minister of Justice recommends a “moderate filing of legal briefs in order to ensure their distribution according to the available means.”

The reduced resumption of court operations includes the activity of the civil registry office for the registration of births and deaths.

In order to ensure the re-opening to the public, the presence of court officials will be ordered in rotation. All court personnel must be available “full time” during the period of service. Court officers who have the appropriate technological equipment are allowed to work from home.

Specifically, the Ministerial Decree provides for the following staffing of courts in civil and commercial matters:

Courts of First Instance (Juzgados de Primer Instancia) / Commercial Courts (Juzgado de lo Mercantil)

  • One court clerk (Letrado de la Administración de Justicia) per 10 court divisions
  • 10% of other judicial staff per court division
  • One administrative officer per court division
  • One auxiliary official per four court departments

Court of Appeals (Audiencia Provincial),  High Court of Justice (Tribunal Superior de Justicia) and the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo)

  • 10% of court clerks
  • One administrative officer and one auxiliary officer per chamber or judicial division
  • Other officials as the court clerk considers necessary for the registration and distribution of pending suits.

The limited resumption of judicial activity does not include procedural time limits, which remain suspended.

Sonia Gumpert (sgumpert@mmmm.es)
Partner | Abogada

Ricardo Cedrón Gragera (rcedron@mmmm.es)
Legal Analyst