Supreme Court of Justice (1)
Courts of Appeal (5)
Courts of First Instance
In addition to the Constitutional Court, the following categories of courts exist:
The judicial courts are common courts for civil matters and they exercise jurisdiction in all areas that are not attributed to other judicial jurisdictions.
The Portuguese territory is divided, for the purposes of the administration of Justice, into judicial districts, judicial circuits and judicial regions.
The Supreme Court of Justice is the superior hierarchical body of the judicial courts. Its headquarters are in Lisbon. It consists of civil, criminal and social divisions. It functions under the direction of a President [Presiding Judge], as a full bench of the Court, in specialised divisions and in sections.
The civil sections are competent to try cases that are not allocated to other divisions; the criminal sections try cases of a criminal nature; the social sections try cases for which the Labour Courts have competence.
The Supreme Court of Justice, save in the case of legally enshrined exceptions, only deals with matters of law.
The Courts of Appeal are, as a rule, courts of second instance.
There are one or more Courts of Appeal in each district.
At the present time Courts of Appeal sit in Lisbon, Oporto, Coimbra, Évora and Guimarães.
The Courts of Appeal also include civil, criminal and social divisions with objective competence on a par with that which is indicated in relation to the Supreme Court of Justice.
They function under the direction of a President [Presiding Judge], as a full bench or by divisions.
The judicial courts of first instance are normally the District Courts.
When justified by the volume or nature of the service, several courts can exist within the same district.
The area of competence of the judicial courts is the district. However, courts may exist that have competence in respect of one or more districts or in respect of areas specially defined by law.
Courts of First Instance exist that have specialised and specific competence. Courts with specialised competence deal with specific matters, irrespective of the applicable form of proceeding; Courts having specific competence deal with matters determined according to the applicable type of proceeding; in justified cases, Courts having mixed specialised competence may be created.
The judicial courts may be divided into benches.
In district courts, benches may have generic, specialised or specific competence.
District Courts may be further divided into divisions having specific competence, when this is justified by the volume and complexity of the service.
One or more district judges sit in each court, bench or division.
Two or more judges, appointed by circuit judges, sit in each judicial circuit.
Courts of First instance sit, depending on the cases, as a single court, a collective court or a jury court.
Courts having generic competence have competence in civil and commercial matters, to:
The courts having specialised competence in the area of intervention of the European Legal Network in civil and commercial matters, are as follows: Family Courts, Juvenile Courts, Commercial Courts and Maritime Courts.
Last update: 01-08-2007