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The Administration in Spain

The Administration in Spain

5. Courts and police

In most municipalities you have a "Juzgado de Paz" (Court of Peace) that acts as a consiliation court for civil disputes. Then you have the first ordinary court, called "Juzgado de Primera Instancia". In addition you have provincial, regional and national courts, the supreme court and the constitutional courts. Before being able to take a matter to a European court, you must first present your case to the courts in Spain.

There are 3 police forces: "Policia municipal" dealing with local matters like local traffic, "policia nacional" dealing with all other matters (and also having foreigners departments in bigger cities), and the "Guardia Civil", mainly attending to criminal matters, but also traffic on national roads.

If you have a dispute with your neighbour about dividing walls or fences, you can bring the matter to the Juzgado de Paz. If you go to court (or are being taken to court by someone) in a more serious civil matter (for instance against a builder for not finishing the construction of your house) you go to the "Juzgado de Primera Instancia" (in most cases you must be represented by a lawyer). If the dogs are barking all night on your urbanisation, you go to the municipal police. If your house has been broken into or your purse stolen, you make the "denuncia" at the station of the national police or the Guardia Civil.

The courts in Spain are overloaded and often work slow. The best advice is to avoid having to use the courts, for instance by getting complete information and taking advice before acting or signing any kind of contracts.

 

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