Litigation in Spain and the UK
What are the major differences between the two jurisdictions in civil matters?
What are the major differences between the two jurisdictions in criminal matters?
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 represented?
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.
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