Spain Explained

The Lawsuit in Spain

When buying in Spain your aim is probably to spend more time in the Spanish sun. The last thing you want is to spend time tussling with Spanish litigation in the form of a lawsuit instead. Unfortunately, sometimes discrepancies exist and there can be differences in interpretation of the contents of the private purchase contract. This kind of dispute can often only be resolved in court.

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A lawsuit filed against someone in Spain begins with the demanda which contains the details of both parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, the facts of the case and the compensation sought. Before presenting the claim to the court the defendant must be sent an official notification via the Notary in the form of a telegram or burofax. A sum of money then has to be deposited with the court by the plaintiff which, depending on the eventual success of the lawsuit, is refundable.

The lawsuit in Spain is meticulously prepared by the lawyer representing the plaintiff under Power of Attorney. It is then presented to the court where it must be accepted by the judge who will notify the defendant of the claim. The judge will then summon the lawyers for both parties to attend a court hearing, known in Spain as the jucio oral. During this hearing both parties are able to correct any discrepancies in the lawsuit and request proofs and evidence.It can be many months before the judge sets a date for the trial. After the trial the judge has twenty days in which to pass sentence.

The Spanish equivalent of a barrister is called a procurador who acts as a communicator between the lawyer and the judge. The lawyer cannot directly communicate with the judge except at the hearing and then at the trial.

The judge passes sentence within twenty days of the trial being completed but this does not mean that compensation is immediate. On some occasions in can take  months for the judge’s order to be respected and there is often a risk that the defendant does not have sufficient funds available or has gone bankrupt in the mean time. To counter act this situation another lawsuit can be set in motion that runs parallel to the compensation claim. The aim of this lawsuit is to embargo bank accounts, property and other assets of the defendant. This type of lawsuit is known as medidas cautelares, meaning preventative measures.

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Once the judge has passed the sentence the defendant must respond by paying compensation or complying with whatever order the judge has dictated. If this does not happen then a completely new lawsuit begins that is totally independent from the original one. This is known as the procedimiento ejecutivo, the obligation to pay what is owed. This lawsuit means that assets belonging to the accused can be seized including property, land, vehicles etc and sold at auction. Raising sufficient funds to honour the compensation demand can take months.

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