Court Action
Court Action

Questions on litigation in Spain   

Warning: The information set out below is a general guideline provided by DOMENECH ABOGADOS. Specific advice should be sought before any action in reliance on it is taken, as explained more fully in this website's legal notice.

1.   How long does it take to go to court in Spain?

There’s no answer to this question. Some courts react quickly, but most are overloaded and desperately slow. In civil litigation cases (debts, property disputes, etc), it can easily take eight to eighteen months to receive a decision from the first-level court.

2.   Are some civil court actions fast-tracked?

Children’s cases are – in theory - given priority. Still, even such cases often take far longer than one would wish.

3.  Do I need to instruct and pay both a solicitor and a barrister to represent me?

No, the legal profession in Spain isn’t divided in that way. So the lawyer who speaks and writes to you during the preparation of your case will be the same one who stands up in court and speaks for you there.  In most court proceedings, it’s also compulsory to hire a court agent, who acts as intermediary between the lawyer and the court office. Doménech Abogados will arrange the appointment of such agent.

4. What language will be used in court, and what if I don’t understand Spanish?

The most likely language will be Castilian (Spanish) although the proceedings may be carried out, for example, in Catalan in a court in north-east Spain. There’ll be a court-approved interpreter to translate questions put to you and to translate your answers back to the court. At Doménech Abogados, we pre-prepare clients for court hearings, and often give them sample likely questions (rehearsing with them and an interpreter so they get used to the style and pace of Spanish court procedure).

5.  I’ve been told that a power of attorney is necessary to litigate in Spain. Is that true?

Spanish lawyers and court agents can’t represent you in a Spanish court without your having either:
-                      in person, designated them formally at the Spanish court; or
-                      signed a formal power of attorney appointing them.

6.  Must I come to Spain, then, to appoint my lawyer?

Not necessarily.  Doménech Abogados can provide you with a power of attorney in English, complete with full instructions on how to sign that before a public notary in your country of origin and have it stamped for use in Spain at your own country’s foreign ministry.

7. If I lose my case, is it worth appealing?

Every case must be decided on its merits.  However, because time limits are strict in Spanish proceedings, your lawyer may file a notice that you will appeal a lost first-level court case to protect your position and give you the flexibility to file appeal arguments when the court later signals that it’s time to do so.  If such notice isn’t filed in the few days after the first-level court decision is made, you’d lose your right to appeal.

8. If there’s an appeal, will I have the chance of being cross-examined again and of producing further evidence in support of my case?

No. Generally, appeals are restricted to the submission of written arguments by both sides, basically on technical points. Except in special cases, no further documents can be filed at that stage and no new cross-examinations can take place. Therefore, it’s important that all information, evidence and documentation concerning your case are made available to your lawyers at the outset, before filing or answering the claim in the first-level court.

9.  How can I be sure that the judge has heard all I had to say and that he s/he will remember my explanations when judgment is delivered?

In Spanish courts, hearings are recorded on CD or DVD. This footage will be available to the judge, as well as the parties’ lawyers on appeal.

10. What happens if this footage is damaged or lost?

We can request the nullity of proceedings and the fixing of a new trial.
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