Litigation in Spain and the UK
What are the major differences between the two jurisdictions in civil
One of the main differences is that the pleadings or documents submitted
to the court in the English system are shorter and indeed the system now
requires a “skeleton argument” which is literally the bare bones of the case.
In Spain the demanda or claim – made in court has to be argued in full in the
first document submitted with all of the facts, the evidence and the case law
relied on. In matrimonial matters in particular the English petition submitted
is a box ticking exercise with requirements for evidence later in the
proceedings. In Spain in the first document submitted you have to provide the
evidence you rely on and fully argue the case if it is contentious.
What are the major differences between the two jurisdictions in criminal
In the Spanish criminal law system the Judge is an investigating Judge
with powers to call for evidence, to question witnesses and to decide what
information can and cannot be released to the parties at the preliminary stage
of the proceedings – ‘Diligencias Previas’. In the English system it is the
role of the adversarial counsel to question witnesses and provide evidence with
the Judge having a role in testing that evidence and asking additional
questions but not investigating matters that are not brought before him or her
by the prosecution and defence.
Are there court costs in both countries?
Up to December 2012 in Spain there were no costs in civil proceedings or
matrimonial proceedings that were payable directly to the court. The only costs
charged in the courts were payable if a company with a turnover of more than 8
millions of euros was bringing the claim.
However the current government has brought in court costs as part of the
new financial measures. There is a delay in enacting this as the tax office have
not yet advised of the Models or returns that need to be entered but to give an
approximate idea below are two examples of typical charges.
For a civil claim of 50.000€ for example the court fee would be 300€
+ 0,5% of the total value of the claim (50,000€ in this case, so an additional 250€,
making the total cost 550€. The cost of a subsequent Appeal would be 800€.
For a divorce petition for example, the cost would be 150€ + 0,5% of
the total value of the claim; with the cost of appeal also 800€.
In England there have always been court fees payable on submitting
claims in civil and family proceedings though for family proceedings these have
not been very costly.
Can you act in person in Spain or the UK or do you have to be legally
In the UK it is possible to represent yourself in family and civil
proceedings. In English family proceedings and with the reduction in the number
of firms who provide legal aid this has become more common. You can also
commence civil action and defend a civil action. In criminal proceedings you
are appointed a lawyer if you do not have one.
In Spain not only can you not act in person but you also have to name a
court procurator as well as an abogado or lawyer in all proceedings except for
minor criminal allegations. The procurator is responsible for notifying the
parties of decisions and orders of the court.
meet with the litigation experts at De Cotta Law, please contact Sandra