Simplified and accelerated procedures - Portugal
Small claims procedures
1. Existence of a specific small claims procedure. Does a small claims procedure exist (i.e. a special procedure that is simpler than the ordinary procedure and applies in cases where the amount at stake is below a certain monetary threshold or, for certain types of litigation, regardless of any monetary threshold)?
Yes, there is a special
simplified procedure that applies in the cases referred to in the question.
1.1. Scope of procedure
The scope of the special
procedure for enforcing pecuniary obligations of low value or arising from
commercial transactions is subject to a threshold of €14 963.94.
1.2. Application of procedure
The procedure is entirely
There are no legal
provisions for any transfer of procedure.
However, the claimant may
withdraw from the proceedings and - if withdrawal is approved - subsequently bring
an appropriate ordinary action.
No forms exist in the
Portuguese legal system for declaratory action in relation to small claims.
In cases where the amount
at stake does not exceed €3 740.98 and the parties have not appointed a representative
or that representative has not appeared at the hearing, the judge will
examine the witnesses, thereby assisting the claimant and defendant in taking
1.5. Rules concerning the taking of evidence
The rules on the taking
of evidence under this procedure are more streamlined and flexible than those
applied in the ordinary declaratory procedure.
This concern to make the
procedure less demanding and more streamlined is reflected in the following
rules for examination of cases:
- Evidence is presented at the hearing.
Parties may call on only three witnesses if the amount at stake does not
exceed €3 740.98, or five in other cases. However, they may produce
no more than three witnesses regarding each of the facts they propose to
prove, not counting witnesses who have stated that they have no
knowledge of that fact.
- The hearing takes place within thirty
days. If the amount at stake in the case is less than €3 740.98, there
is no need to set a date in agreement with any legal representatives
that have been appointed.
- Failure by any of the parties to appear,
even where justified, does not constitute grounds for deferral.
Similarly, the absence of representatives, even where justified, does
not constitute grounds for deferral if the amount at stake is less than €3
- If the amount at stake is higher and the
case is deferred, the hearing takes place within thirty days, no second
deferral being allowed.
- “If the judge considers that certain
action must be taken in order to arrive at a sound verdict in the case,
the hearing shall be suspended at the time deemed most convenient, and a
date shall then be set immediately for its resumption; in this case
judgment must be concluded within thirty days.” (Article 4 of Decree-Law
- Expert evidence is always produced by a
- Once evidence has been taken, each
representative may make a brief oral statement.
1.6. Written or oral procedure
Like the other
procedures, this is an oral procedure.
Any representatives of
the parties must be given the opportunity to make a brief oral statement.
Witnesses will be
examined and oral testimony and explanatory statements taken at the hearing, save where such forms of evidence are not
specified by the parties or undertaken on the judge’s initiative.
1.7. Content of judgment
The rules on the content
of the judgment are more flexible, as the grounds must merely be succinct,
i.e. short and concise.
Moreover, the judge is
not required to write down the judgment, but dictates it directly for the
The judicial decision to
be handed down in cases not contested by a defendant who is served in person
is also simple in structure: the person judging the case must simply confer
enforceable status on the request, i.e. acknowledge its content.
Mention will be made of
exceptions that cause delays (procedural flaws that are so significant that
the judge cannot consider the request, absolving the defendant instead) or
the rejection of the applicant’s claim as manifestly unfounded only insofar
as such issues are clearly apparent.
1.8. Reimbursement of costs
There are no specific
restrictions on reimbursement of the party’s costs, which include in
particular advance costs, court fees paid, prosecution fees (intended among
other things to offset expenditure on legal representatives) and amounts
deposited to meet expenses and expenditure.
Under a general rule (rather
than any rule specific to this type of procedure), court fees equal to or
less than €44.5 are not returned.
1.9. Possibility to appeal
Since there are no
specific rules on appeals for this procedure, there are no exceptions or
specific limits to the possibility of appeal.
Further information can be obtained at the following websites:
- http://www.stj.pt/- Supreme Court of Justice;
- http://www.conselhosuperiordamagistratura.pt/ - Higher Council of the Judiciary;
- http://www.mj.gov.pt/- Ministry of Justice;
- http://trl.pt/ - Court of Appeal at Lisbon;
- http://www.trc.pt/ - Court of Appeal at Coimbra;
- http://www.tre.pt/ - Court of Appeal at Évora;
- http://www.trp.pt - Court of Appeal at Oporto;
- http://dre.pt/ - online legislation;
- http://www.itij.mj.pt - legal database;
- http://www.dagj.mj.pt/ - Directorate-General for the Administration of Justice (providing information inter alia on the contact details and geographical jurisdiction of the courts and access to the court officials’ website);
- http://www.tribunaisnet.mj.pt/ - web portal where you can find the application form for an order for payment;
- http://www.gplp.mj.pt - Legal Policy and Planning Office, Ministry of Justice;
- http://www.asjp.pt/ - professional association of Portuguese judges;
- http://www.smmp.pt/ - professional association of officers of the public prosecutor’s office;
- http://www.oa.pt/ - lawyers’ association.
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