IT was extremely surprising when a case against an expat by a Swiss bank over an allegation of serious fraud was finally brought to trial.
The case, involving a Swedish woman, stretches as far back as 1993 and is exactly the sort of example that gives the Spanish judicial system a bad reputation.
In reality though, overall case lengths in Spain do not differ too much to those of the United Kingdom.
The perception that potential claimants have is that ‘it will take years’
Unfortunately, the perception that potential claimants have is that ‘it will take years’, something which often deters people from taking legitimate legal action.
According to a report drawn up by the Spanish judiciary for 2011, civil cases took an average of 7.7 months to be ruled on, and an additional 4.9 months on appeal cases, whereas criminal matters needed 9.3 months.
In the case of more serious crimes involving a trial, an additional 12 months was the norm.
In procedures for divorce by mutual consent, three months is acceptable and where you are suing a government office (administrative cases) you can expect to reach a ruling within 15 months.
Throughout Spain last year just over nine million court cases were filed, with Andalucia having the highest number, processing 230 court cases per 1,000 inhabitants in 2010.
The report also highlights the sum of compensation awarded due to defective or dysfunctional dispensation of justice (€5 million), the number of complaints filed in connection to this (16,650) and the lowering number of defendants (8%) that settled under the small claims proceedings.
Finally, a note on the Spanish prison population: out of the 75,000 inmates, less than 10% are female and 35% of the total are foreigners.
Q: What are the new laws relating to rentals?
A: There have been many proposed modifications introduced but in sum, the new draft relates mostly to amendments to existing rules that hinder rental business growth.
For example, contracts will now have a maximum mandatory extension of three years, as opposed to five.
Eviction will be granted within 10 days from a claim being lodged if payment is not made, while tenants will be able to terminate the contract with a month’s notice.
Landlords will be able to request termination of the contract if they need the property for their own use and property buyers will have the right to remove existing tenants if the contract is not registered with the Land Registry.
The draft has been criticised for being too owner-friendly but then again, this was the whole purpose of the proposal.
Q: Can I have a dog in my community of owners?
A: This is a controversial matter and still today, some courts of first instance deem that a prohibition within the statutes can be upheld as being a valid agreement.
Generally though, superior case law and even EU laws state that it is against constitutional rights to ban dogs altogether, and therefore courts will ultimately award the owner the right to have one.
Noisy, dirty or dangerous animals can however be banned.