30 Apr New procedural measures approved by the Royal Decree-law 16/2020.
Royal Decree Law 16/2020, of 28 April, introduces new procedural and organizational measures in the field of the Administration of Justice, trying to alleviate the foreseeable collapse in the courts after the end of the state of alarm.
Following the declaration of the state of alarm on 14 March 2020, all judicial activity was suspended save for concrete cases and the procedural deadlines were postponed as well. The Royal Decree-law 16/2020, of 28 April, attempts to deal with the foreseeable judicial collapse generated by the COVID-19 crisis.
Firstly, this norm establishes that the month of August, traditionally a non-working month for the courts, will be exceptionally active this year between 11 and 31 August, except for weekends and public holidays.
This measure has been harshly criticised by the General Council of the Legal Profession, which believes that it may be counterproductive due to the fact that it coincides with the holiday period of the justice administration staff, as well as it can cause the non-appearance of witnesses, experts, etc.
With regard to procedural deadlines, the Royal Decree-law regulates that all procedural terms and deadlines that have been suspended by the declaration of the state of alarm will be recalculated from the beginning, counting from the next working day to the day on which the suspension of the corresponding procedure ceases to have effect. The time limits for the appeal phase will also be extended, provided that they were notified during the state of alarm or within twenty working days following its cessation, for a period equal to that provided for the lodging of the appeal in the corresponding normative.
On the other hand, organisational measures are also foreseen to avoid contagion, such as the holding of telematic hearings during the state of alarm and up to three months after its completion, provided that the courts, tribunals and public prosecutor’s offices have the necessary technical means.
Other measures, which will also last up to three months after the end of the state of alarm, include limiting public access to oral proceedings, dispensing with the use of robes by lawyers, the possibility that medical-forensic reports may be made solely on the basis of available medical documentation, or that public attention will be provided by telephone or telematic means. The working day will also be spread out over the whole day in morning and afternoon shifts in order to avoid the concentration of staff in the Administration of Justice.
Likewise, the Ministry of Justice may transform judicial bodies that are pending entry into operation at the time this Royal Decree-law comes into force into judicial bodies that deal exclusively with procedures associated with COVID-19.
Finally, Royal Decree-law 16/2020 also establishes a special and summary procedure during the state of alarm and up to three months after its completion for the resolution of issues relating to family law, such as custody arrangements or the review of measures on financial support between spouses and child support when the financial circumstances of the parent have been altered as a result of the health crisis.
If you have any questions or queries about these new measures, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org