Some Statistics About Spanish Courts
On the subject of Spanish litigation, in my experience, there seems to be quite a bit of confusion in respect of several aspects related to the way justice works in Spain, such as how long court cases take, what sort of costs you expect to face, etc. I have found some interesting statistics which I will sum up in a few bullet points below.
- Duration of court cases According to a report issued by the supervisor for the judiciary (CGPJ), courts issued rulings in the following average time:
- Civil cases: 7.7 months
- Civil appeal cases: 4.9 months
- Divorce mutually consented: 1-3 months
- Administrative cases: around 15 months
- Number of court cases in a year In all of Spain, last year just over 9 million court cases were filed, around the same amount were finalized and just over 1.6 million rulings were passed. Andalusia is the most belligerent regional community in 2010, with 230 court cases per 1.000 inhabitants. The least is La Rioja, with 136, no doubt the wine would have something to do with it!
- Compensation granted for courts responsibility for defective operation in 2010, approximately €5 million were awarded in compensation for defective or dysfunctional dispensation of justice.
- Number of complaints In 2010, a total 16,650 complaints were lodged in relation to the dispensation of justice. Of these, 200 complaints were received in the Law Societies.
- Money lodged within court bank accounts At the end of 2010, Banesto bank (the officially appointed by Spanish courts) had a balance in its accounts of €3.3 billion. I have a client with 1.4 million sitting there since June last year.
- Number of Prison Inmates In 2010 75,000 people were confined in Spanish prisons. Of these, 35% were foreign.
A note on the Cost of Justice in Spain
Firstly, justice is free in Spain as such, as court action does not cost money, except for a symbolic deposit and a higher sum when you go to the Supreme Court.
It is the lawyers that make up for the costs, and this is what we would call Court costs in Spain. Many people believe that when you lose a case, you have to pay the other parties lawyers’ fees to be calculated depending on the hours of work of the lawyer, the professional prestige of the lawyer in question, what other costs these lawyers may engage when litigating (private investigators, detectives, technical reports etc.), so that in the end, these are often far beyond the actually monetary worth of a case. However, in Spain the Law Societies stipulates what sort of costs are to be awarded, on the basis of a number of rules which, generally, are based on the value of the claim.