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Covid-19

Operations of the court system in Spain

Taking into account that the statute of limitations periods and time bars in respect of any types of actions and rights have been suspended while the state of emergency is in place, the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) has decided the suspension of procedural time periods along with the suspension of all court activity. The time periods will resume when the state of emergency ends. However, the following should be taken into account:

(a)     Civil and commercial courts. The suspension does not apply to the granting of injunctive relief, interim orders or for urgent matters that may cause irreparable harm, if not dealt by Spanish civil courts. 

In this regard, it is worth noting that Spanish Royal Decree 8/2020 has established a moratorium on the duty to file a petition for an insolvency order while the current state of emergency continues in effect. During the moratorium, the debtor will also be protected from any petitions of by creditors of forced insolvency. However, the insolvency moratorium is only partial and does not protect the debtor from steps to be taken by creditors to enforce claims (whether secured or unsecured) or from applications to terminate contracts by a counterparty.

(b)     Criminal courts. The suspension does not affect some urgent proceedings (i.e protection orders, injunctive remedies in relation to gender violence or violence involving minors) or such matters involving fundamental rights (i.e. habeas corpus, on-call or duty services, activities involving a detained person, etc.).

(c)      Constitutional courts. The suspension will not affect the ability of the court to deliver orders on injunctive remedies as necessary to protect the constitutional system and fundamental rights and public freedoms.

As for arbitration proceedings, most of the Spanish Arbitral institutions under Royal Decree 463/2020, have suspended their activity and the timeline for motions. But other institutions such as Corte Civil y Mercantil de Arbitraje –CIMA-) appear to have adopted a more flexible approach, and have suspended only the attendance at face-to-face hearings, leaving the decision over their suspension to the parties. However, in practical terms, most of the arbitration proceedings have been suspended in Spain as parties have the obligation to stay home.