The purpose of the civil process is to regulate certain disputes within the personal sphere (family, capacity, succession), as well as any issues falling within the patrimonial sphere.
The process is regulated by the Civil Procedure Act (“Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil”), approved in 2000, which sets forth the functioning and competence of civil and commercial courts, the conditions and requirements for accessing to justice and the different type of processes that exist.
As a general rule, any person willing to litigate must do so assisted by a lawyer, who shall be in charge of the strategy, drafts the judicial documents and intervenes before the courts, and of a court solicitor (“procurador”), who has the formal representation of the plaintiff or defendant before the courts and who receives the judicial decisions and submits them to the lawyer. The involvement of a lawyer and a solicitor may only be dispensed in cases involving a very low monetary amount.
It should also be noted that the civil process is always subject to the will of the parties, so that they can, at any time, reach an agreement, renounce or withdraw or even acquiesce, that is, recognize the reason for the plaintiff.
Regarding the kind of processes that exist, there are fundamentally two:
– The ordinary process (“juicio ordinario”), generally intended for claims for an amount greater than € 6,000.
– The verbal process (“juicio verbal”), for claims of a lower amount.
It shall be noted that the former is a general rule which admits exceptions since, on occasions, the applicable process will be determined by the nature of the matter at stake (for example, disputes regarding leases shall be processed through the verbal process, regardless of their amount).
On the other hand, there are also specific additional processes such as the order for payment process (“juicio monitorio”), for monetary claims that are supported by invoices or other documents evidencing the debt.
In principle, the process begins with the filing of a claim by the plaintiff, which shall include all documents that support his allegations. The defendant will have the possibility of opposing the claim in his answer.
The next step varies depending on the nature of the process. Regarding the verbal process, it shall continue directly with the trial itself. Concerning the ordinary process, the trial will be preceded by a hearing phase ( “audiencia previa”).
During the trial, which is held before the Court, orally, the evidence will be practiced and the lawyers will present their conclusions before the Judge.
Finally, the Judge issues a sentence, which can be appealed before higher instances.
Regarding the length of the process, it may vary a lot, depending on the type of process and, especially, on the agility of the Court or the accumulation of work.
We have intended to explain roughly the main highlights of the civil process in Spain, even though there are obviously a large number of specialties, deadlines, rights and obligations that shall be taken into consideration, and that require the sound advice of a specialized lawyer.
In this sense, at Prime Legal Abogados we put at your disposal a Litigation Department with extensive and proven experience that will conveniently advise you in the frame of any civil process.