HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS IN SPAIN

This article will guidance on How To Serve legal papers in Spain.  Spain is a constitutional monarchy with a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament, the Cortes Generales. The lower and upper legislative branches are made up of the Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados), a lower house elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation to serve four-year terms, and the Senate (Senado), an upper house.

Ministers are elected by the lower parliament and appointed by the king following discussions with representatives from various parliamentary factions. The Prime Minister is elected by the lower parliament and then legally appointed by the monarch, who nominates them.

HOW IS DOMESTIC SERVICE OF LEGAL PAPERS DONE IN SPAIN

A Spain Process Service document’s time, location, method, and recipient are all clearly defined by the rules regulating Spain Process Service, which are used for both judicial and non-judicial papers to ensure the validity of documents produced in the course of a lawsuit (extrajudicial documents).

Case law from the Spanish Constitutional Court shows that delivery of Spain Process Service papers is an essential precondition for other constitutional protections to take effect. When it comes to serving papers, courts have a responsibility to ensure that they are properly delivered; otherwise, a decision could be made without one of the parties being heard, which would violate the adversarial principle and leave that party unable to defend itself properly. 

Procedural decisions adopted in judicial proceedings must be served by the Judicial Administration Support Bureaux (oficinas Judiciales), which include Courts and Shared Center for Document Transmitting (Servicios Comunais Procesales de Actos de Comunicación) in accordance with Article 149 of the Civil Procedure Law (Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil).

For the purposes of communicating with the parties involved in a case and with other parties, judicial organizations employ Spain Process Service documents like notifications, orders to act, summonses, and injunctions are all forms of communication with the parties involved in a case. Summons and injunctions are two methods of communicating with those not parties to the case.

There is a primary system, known as the Central Authority (CA) system, as well as a number of alternative systems. As in the main system, the applicant must provide two copies of each of the Spain Process Service papers to the Court Attorney (Letrado de la Administración de Justicia or LAJ.) It is sufficient to serve [A.]  the Spain Process Service form attached to HC 1965 (the request for service), [B.] the court order to be served or a copy of it, and [C.]  a summary of the court order to be served (again, according to the form annexed to HC 1965). 

Optional options include Spain Process Service by Spanish consular or diplomatic agencies (so long as they do not utilize coercion on the receiver); postal routes; direct Spain Process Service between judicial officials of the two countries; and Spain Process Service requests made directly to local court authorities in the country of destination. 

According to HC 1965, the decision to be served, the request for Spain Process Service, and how the form is filled out must all meet certain linguistic standards. In spite of the many options provided by HC 1965, it is strongly recommended that all Spain Process Service papers be translated into the official language of the State addressed in order to prevent the Central Authority from requesting such translation at a later stage, delaying the Spain Process Service.

Finally, HC 1965 creates a rule to protect the defendant’s right to due process where the document to be notified is a summons or a similar document. To begin, the case cannot move unless it is proven that the Spain Process Service of the document has been established. However, if the Spain Process Service requirements are satisfied, the case may proceed. It must have been six months from the date of transmission of the document, and the Central Authority of the State addressed has not been able to receive the certificate of service from the Central Authority of the State where the document was sent.

HOW IS SERVICE OF LEGAL PAPERS RECORDED

The Court Registrar (Letrado de la Administración de Justicia) (known as the ‘Secretario Judicial’ until 2015) is responsible for the correct organization of Spain Process Service.

Spain Process Service may be performed by a bailiff or the person’s legal representative, who is responsible for paying the fees associated with the service. If the record of service provides sufficient proof that the papers in issue were delivered to the addressee’s house, then delivery will be declared legal. The legal representative must verify the recipient’s identity and legal status, and this must be documented by signing a copy of the document and noting the date of Spain Process Service. In Spain, there is no such thing as a public database. The Punto Neutro Judicial Network, a collection of restricted-access databases, is accessible to Spanish courts and may be used by the country’s legal authorities to conduct address and property searches as necessary. The court must request an investigation into the databases accessible to them if it does not already have the address of the natural or legal person to whom the document is to be served.

A person’s Spanish national identity card or tax identification number, or their identification number as a foreign citizen resident in Spain, is required to search. An individual’s passport number, birth date, or nationality may be necessary if they don’t have a Spanish identification document. Without these additional facts, the search may not give any results. Thus, the authority will need to submit further information. There is no cost associated with this service.

In addition, the parties have the option of obtaining address information from other open sources. There is a price associated with these registries, and the amount varies according to the kind of information requested.

If the legal criteria for each service are met, the document will be declared served. Methods of delivery will ensure that a precise record of the document’s arrival in the case file is kept of when, where, and how it arrived. The Court Registrar must record in the case file the details of the document’s dispatch and its contents and, if necessary, attach to the case file, where appropriate, the acknowledgment of receipt.

how to serve legal papers by mail in spain

The letter or document delivery is not possible. Thus, the postal service will leave a note informing the recipient that it has been sent, and they may collect Spain Process Service at a designated post office within a certain period.

Officials from the Judicial Administration Support Bureau may have additionally attempted to serve the document, in which case a note detailing the time limit during which the document may be retrieved from the court will be inserted into the letterbox of the addressee.

A document is considered to have been served on the addressee even if they refuse to accept Spain Process Service for any reason and will have the same effect as if they had been served, with the understanding that all time limits will begin to run the day after the refusal (Article 161(2) of the Law on Civil Procedure).

Legally, postal articles must either be delivered to the intended recipient or a person authorized by the recipient, or they must be placed in post office boxes or put through residential letter boxes, depending on the kind of item. 

There must be a set of Spain Process Service regulations that govern when postal products cannot be delivered or returned to their sender for whatever reason. There are a number of regulations that regulate how to find the recipient’s address, the origin, and destination of objects, as well as how to call the sender of materials to court for a hearing or summons.

A note will be left by the postal worker advising the recipient that a letter must be picked up at the post office specified within the timeframe allowed by the postal worker. It will be noted and returned to the sender if the item is not picked up within the set time limit.

For administrative and judicial bodies, the designated postal service operator is presumed to be acting honestly and reliably in the distribution, delivery, acceptance, and receipt of Spain Process Service, or in the event of a refusal to accept or the impossibility of delivering such Spain Process Service, whether by physical or virtual means. Spain Process Service by a court staff member will be recorded in a written record that includes a description of what happened and how it was handled. There must be an indication of whether the recipient signed for receipt or refused to sign for receipt in the record of service if the Spain Process Service is regarded to have been completed.

If the addressee’s home address is listed in the municipal register of addresses, for tax purposes, or in any other official register or publication of a trade association, and the addressee cannot be located at the address, the process may be served, in a sealed envelope, on any employee of the defendant.

For non-casual work addresses, if the recipient is not present, the document will be served on a person declaring that they know the recipient or if there is a unit responsible for receiving documents or objects, the person in charge of that unit. The process server must inform the recipient of what was mentioned per Spain Process Service.

The name of the person who receives a copy of the judgment or summons and their connection to the addressee will be placed in the record of Spain Process Service, and any document served in this manner is completely effective, along with the day and time when the addressee was sought but found not to be at home.

The person served may be left without a viable defense if Spain Process Service is not performed in conformity with the law.  Spain Process Service provided by courts, Judicial Administration Support Bureau, and Shared Process Center shall be free of charge to those who want them, regardless of the expense of providing them.

THE HAGUE CONVENTION AND SPAIN: SERVICE OF LEGAL PAPERS INTERNATIONALLY

Spain is a party to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters.

Spain Process Service Requests should be completed in duplicate and submitted with two sets of the documents to be served and translations directly to Spain’s Central Authority for the Hague Service Convention. The person in the United States executing the request form should be either an attorney or clerk of court. The applicant should include the title attorney at law or clerk of court on the identity and address of the applicant and signature stamp fields.

Spain did not object to Spain’s Process Service under Article 10 of the Hague Service Convention and therefore did permit Spain Process Service via postal channels.  Communication between courts is handled by the Secretario Judicial, who heads each court’s administration.

As part of the Spain Process Service of delivering a document, the Central Authority sends it to the Dean Judge (Juzgado Decano) of the Courts of First Instance (Partido Judicial) in the area where the document is being served. In order to distribute various processes (including serving of papers) among judicial bodies within its jurisdiction, this court office has the authority. The Court of First Instance, to which the case has been transferred, performs the act of serving the papers.

Spain’s domestic legislation does not explicitly ban or allow for informal distribution; however, the Central Authority does not conduct this style of service in accordance with Article 5 (2).

Spain has not issued a blanket statement stating that all papers must be written or translated into Spanish. This implies that the Central Authority may decide whether or not to impose the need for a translation. According to Article 144 of the Spanish Procedural Law, translations of any papers written outside of Spanish are required. The document or evidence to be served, and if relevant, the document’s summary must be translated.

Requests for Spain Process Service must be translated into Spanish in order to be processed by the Central Authority. For example, the recipient’s mother language has been taken into account in certain cases. However, the legal system has had a mixed bag of outcomes.

The Central Authority will only consider approving a request for Spain Process Service in the original language if the forwarding authority can demonstrate that a translation is not required in this specific instance. It is usually a good idea to translate a brief overview of a document into a language spoken in that nation.

According to Spanish legislation, the Spain Process Service of papers is free of charge and is handled by public agencies. According to the facts of a given instance, any additional fees incurred by an applicant due to an unusual service should be handled accordingly.

OUR PROCESS

Documents can be faxed at (800) 296-0115, emailed ps@undisputedlegal.com, or uploaded to our website. We do require prepayment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; All documents will be received by our receptionist.

DOMESTIC COVERAGE AREAS:

Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North Dakota | Nebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE AREAS:

Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas | Barbados | Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras | British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands | Chile|China (Macao) | China People’s Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany | Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India | Ireland | Isle of Man | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan | Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea | Kuwait | Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg| Malawi | Malaysia | Malta | Mauritius | Mexico| MonacoMontenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands | New Zealand |Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |Poland| Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania |Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia | Seychelles | Singapore| Slovakia | Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands| UkraineUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam

OFFICE LOCATIONS

New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 2200 Pennsylvania Avenue, 4 Fl East, Washington DC 20037

for assistance serving legal papers in spain

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Sources

1. Constitutional Court ruling STC 1/1993 of 13 January 1993

2. Constitutional Court judgment STC 54/2010 on 4 October 2010

3. Case C-223/14 (Tecom Mican) recognized extrajudicial papers (notarial actions) as being served officially, even in the absence of judicial procedures, as the European Court of Justice concluded in Case C-14/08 (Roda Golf).

4. When a summons or an equivalent document had to be sent abroad for service under the terms of the present Convention, a judgment has been entered against an unappealed defendant, and the judge has the power to release him from its effects if the following conditions are met: 1) The defendant, without any fault on his part, did not have access to a means of service; and 2) the judgment was issued against a defendant who had been summoned but had not appeared

5. To inquire about the location of an addressee, the asking authority must submit a request in writing using the form prescribed by Regulation (EC) 1206/2001

6. Article 24 of Law No 43/2010 of 30 December 2010 on the universal postal service, users’ rights, and the postal market states that a person is presumed to be authorized by the addressee to accept delivery of postal items at the latter’s home address if they can show their identity and assume responsibility for items delivered unless they expressly object.

7. According to CJEU case law (C-354/15 Henderson), the standard form set out in Annex II to that Regulation must be transmitted if any notifications are not accompanied by a translation either in a language that that defendant understands or in the official language of the requested Member State, or, where there are several official languages in that Member State, the official language or one of the official languages of the place where service is to be effected, or if the standard form is not transmitted.

8. Ministerio de Justicia (Ministry of Justice)

Contact details:

Address:Subdirección General de Cooperación Jurídica Internacional

Ministerio de Justicia

c/ San Bernardo N° 62

28071 MADRID

Spain

Telephone: +34 91 390 23 86 / 44 11

Fax: +34 91 390 2475 / 4457

E-mail: laura.fernandez@mjusticia.es

silvia.villa@mjusticia.es

General website:http://www.mjusticia.es/

Contact person: Ms Laura Fernández Domínguez

Ms. Silvia Villa Albertini

Languages are spoken by staff: Spanish, English, French

Working hours from Monday to Friday – 9:00 to 15:00

9.U.S. Embassy Madrid

Calle Serrano, 75

28006 Madrid, Spain

Telephone: (34) 91-587-2200

Emergency after-hours telephone: (34) 91-587-2200 

Fax: (34) 91-587-2303

E-mail: askacs@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Barcelona

Paseo Reina Elisenda de Montcada, 23

08034 Barcelona, Spain

Telephone: (34) 93-280-2227

Emergency after-hours telephone: (34) 91-587-2200 

Fax: (34) 93-280-6175

E-mail: BarcelonaACS@state.gov

U.S. Consular Agency Fuengirola (Málaga)

Avenida Juan Gómez “Juanito”, 8

Edificio Lucía 1º-C

29640 Fuengirola (Málaga), Spain

Telephone: (34) 95-247-4891

Fax: (34) 95-246-5189

E-mail: malagaconsagency@state.gov

U.S. Consular Agency Las Palmas

Edificio Arca

Calle Los Martinez de Escobar 3, Oficina 7

35007 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain

Telephone: (34) 92-827-1259

Fax: (34) 92-822-5863

E-mail: canariasconsagency@state.gov

U.S. Consular Agency Palma de Mallorca

Edificio Reina Constanza

Porto Pi, 8, 9-D

07015 Palma, Islas Baleares, Spain

10. In 1997, Spain and Portugal signed a bilateral agreement to eliminate the need for translations in legal aid cases. Although a bilateral agreement exists between the United States and Austria for the same purpose, the Civil Procedure Convention of 1954 has been superseded by EU Regulation as far as service of papers is concerned.

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