Civil Justice in Spain: Present and Future. Access, Cost, and Duration
Ignacio Díes-Picazo Giménez
Spain has the continental European system of law, known as the 'civil law' system. I shall therefore limit this introduction to a consideration of the most relevant peculiarities or characteristics of the Spanish civil justice system. 1
The jurisdicción ordinaria (ordinary jurisdiction)2 in Spain is divided into four 'orders' or branches: civil; criminal; contentious-administrative; and social. The civil branch deals with litigation related to civil and commercial law. The criminal branch deals with conduct classified as a crime or a misdemeanour. The contentious-administrative arm is charged with controlling the public administration, subject to administrative law. Finally, the social branch covers labour and social security litigation.
This structure means that some matters which form part of 'civil justice' in other countries (e.g. labour law actions) are entrusted to specialist courts in Spain within the Jurisdicción ordinaria. On the other hand, some matters which are commonly dealt with by specialized courts in other countries, e.g. commercial matters, have not been allocated to specialist tribunals in Spain. In this discussion, the expression 'civil justice' will be given the same meaning as in the current Spanish legal system. Thus, with the exception of isolated references to labour or administrative law, this analysis of Spanish civil justice refers exclusively to courts which are charged with the resolution of civil and commercial litigation.____________________