Under civil law, the passing of time, as a “legal fact”, may give rise to the acquisition or loss of a subjective right, a legal capacity or a mere expectation. Acquisition of any of these is given the general name of “acquisitive prescription”, while their loss is known as “extinctive prescription”.
The The lapse or expiry of a time period (caducidad) means that if a fixed time period is laid down by law for performing an act with legal effect, the right to perform this act automatically expires when the time period ends. Unlike prescription, such a time limit can be assessed by the court of its own motion and only applies in cases specifically provided for by law. If the period is interrupted, it is suspended for the legally specified period and the time that has run until the interruption is computed; the remaining time then starts running again from the day after expiry of the legal suspension period.
“Extinctive prescription”, strictly speaking, is the extinguishment of rights and claims to hold rights when they have not been exercised within the time limit specified for that purpose. In order to be legally valid, it must be actively pleaded by the party who is relying on it. Extinctive prescription is interrupted by any action by the holder of the right that is incompatible with his apparent abandonment of the right owing to failure to exercise it. These actions are listed in Article 1973 of the Civil Code (exercise of the right before the court, extrajudicial demand by the creditor and any acknowledgment of the debt by the debtor). After the interruption, time starts to run anew again. The Spanish courts have consistently placed a restrictive interpretation on this manner of extinguishing obligations.
Time limits can be expressed in terms of days, weeks, months or years.
For calculation purposes, unless otherwise stipulated, if the time limit is expressed in days the period starts on the day following the first day mentioned, which is not included in the calculation. If the periods are expressed in months or years, they are computed as running from one date to another. If there is no equivalent to the starting date in the last month of the period, the expiry date is taken to be the last day of the month. In this specific case, non-working days are not included (Articles 5 and 1130 of the Civil Code).
For “calculating time limits in civil proceedings" see question 3 below.
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With regard to the rules governing administrative proceedings, Regulation No 1182/71 has been transposed by Article 48 of the legal provisions governing public administrations and the common administrative procedure, which provides as follows:
This calendar must be published before the start of each year in the corresponding official gazette and other media to ensure that it is made known to the public.
Non-working days for procedural purposes are laid down in Article 182 of the Judiciary Act, which states that:
Under Article 183 of the Judiciary Act, non-working days include the whole of August for all procedural purposes with the exception of proceedings declared to be urgent by procedural laws. However, the General Council of the Judiciary may issue regulations authorising procedures of other kinds on these days (see reply to 5 b) below).
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The rules concerning time limits for civil matters are contained in Chapter II, Title V, Book I (Articles 130 to 136) of the aforementioned Civil Procedure Code. The main rules are as follows:
All judicial actions must be carried out on working days and during working hours. Working days are all the days of the year except for Sundays, national and local holidays and the whole of August. Working hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. unless otherwise provided for by law. The hours from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. are also considered working hours for notification and enforcement purposes.
Court procedures must be carried out by certain deadlines or within certain time periods, after which the party concerned no longer has the right to carry out the action in question. The Court Clerk records the expiry of the time period in the case file and either takes action accordingly, if qualified to do so, or informs the court so that it can take the appropriate decision.
The civil courts, either of their own motion or at the request of the party concerned, may allow court procedures to be carried out on non-working days or during non-working hours if a delay in these procedures may be seriously detrimental to the parties, prevent the proper administration of justice or make a court decision ineffective. This is the case with “urgent measures” (e.g. non-voluntary admission to a psychiatric hospital, or court measures taken in the “best interest” of minors in conflicts arising in civil proceedings). Such measures can be taken in August without the need for express authorisation. Similarly, authorisation is not required if urgent measures initiated during working hours must necessarily be continued in non-working hours.
The time period starts to run from the day following that of the legal notification of the start of the period, and includes the last day of the period, which expires in 24 hours. However, if a time period starts to run as soon as another one expires, this new period is computed, without any need for fresh notification, from the day following the expiry of the former period. Non-working days are excluded from calculations of periods expressed in days. Periods expressed in months or years are computed from one date to another. If there is no equivalent to the starting date in the last month of the period, the expiry date is taken to be the last day of the month.
If a document must be submitted within a certain time limit, it can be presented up to 15 days from the working day following the date of expiry of the period at the court registry or the stipulated registry office or service, if any. In civil proceedings, documents cannot be submitted at a court providing a standby service.
Time periods cannot be extended. However, if a period or deadline cannot be complied with for reasons of force majeure, the period may be interrupted or the deadline extended, in which case the period continues to run once the cause of the interruption or extension has ceased. The court, either of its own motion or at the request of the party suffering the situation, must find evidence of such a situation of force majeure at a hearing attended by the other parties.
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The time period starts to run from the day following the date of the related notification, and includes the last date of the period, which ends at midnight (24.00 hours). However, if there is a legally stipulated time period that starts to run as soon as another one expires, this new period is computed, without any need for fresh notification, from the day following the expiry of the former period. All the rules governing “judicial notification acts” are contained in Articles 149 to 168 of the Civil Procedure Code.
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Article 132 of the Civil Procedure Code states that court procedures must be carried out by the deadlines or within the time periods stipulated for each one and that where no period or deadline is specified, the procedure must be carried out as soon as possible.
Article 133 of the Civil Procedure Code states that the time period starts to run from the day following that on which notice is given of the start of the period, and includes the last day of the period, which ends at midnight (24.00 hours).
Article 151(2) of the Civil Procedure Code states that notifications to the State legal service and the public prosecutor, as well as those served through the notification services organised by the Associations of Court Lawyers, are deemed to be made on the day following the date of receipt indicated in the document.
Non-working days are excluded from calculations of periods expressed in days.
For the purposes of the periods indicated for the urgent measures referred to in Article 131(2) of the Civil Procedure Code (actions of the court which, if delayed, may be seriously detrimental to the parties, prevent the proper administration of justice or make a court decision ineffective), non-working days include only Sundays and public holidays and not the month of August.
Periods expressed in months or years are calculated from one date to another.
If there is no equivalent to the starting date in the last month of the period, the expiry date is taken to be the last day of the month.
With regard to time periods for submitting court documents, Article 135 of the Civil Procedure Code states that:
However, to comply with the legal requirements concerning evidence and the submission of original documents and authenticated copies, these originals and authenticated copies must be sent to the court within three days after the documents have been sent using the means indicated in the preceding paragraph.
Time periods which end on a Sunday or other non-working day are considered to be extended until the next working day.
However, if a time period starts to run as soon as another one expires, this new period is computed, without any need for fresh notification, from the day following the expiry of the former period and the provision relating to periods ending on non-working days is applicable.
Although Spain comprises the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla in addition to the mainland, there are no special regulations concerning procedural time limits for the non-mainland areas.
See the answer to the previous question.
There is a general time limit for the preparation (notice) and lodging (substantiation) of appeals for all civil matters. The time limit for filing notice of an appeal is five days from notification of the judgment (Articles 457 and 479 of the Civil Procedure Code). The time limit for lodging an appeal is 20 days from the date on which the court admits the notice of appeal.
In oral proceedings (the scope of which is laid down in Article 250 of the Civil Procedure Code) there is no written procedure for appearing and for filing a defence. Instead, the court order admitting the complaint must indicate that the hearing will be held on a date between 10 and 20 days from that on which the parties are summoned (Article 440 of the Civil Procedure Code).
At an ordinary trial (the scope of which is laid down in Article 249 of the Civil Procedure Code) the defendant must submit a statement of defence within 20 days from the date on which he is summoned (Article 404 of the Civil Procedure Code).
The time limits for appearing or for filing a defence cannot be shortened or extended. The explanatory memorandum to the Civil Procedure Code proposes drastically cutting the adjudication period and establishing more realistic time limits for other matters, based on the extensive experience gained under the former Act of 1881. It recommends brief and reasonable time limits enabling a decision to be handed down without delay in response to requests for effective court protection. Article 134(1) of the Civil Procedure Code states that the time limits established in the Code cannot be extended.
Exceptionally, time periods may be interrupted and deadlines extended for reasons of force majeure:
A person who fails to comply with a procedural time limit loses the right to perform the action in question (Article 136 of the CPC).
With regard to the defendant’s appearance at the trial, he is declared to be in contempt of court (Articles 442(2) and 496(1) CPC) and the trial continues without his being summoned again. He is notified only of this decision and the final decision which puts an end to the trial (Article 497 CPC).
Failure by the courts and judicial staff to comply with judicial time limits without due cause is subject to disciplinary action under the Judiciary Act, without detriment to the right of the injured party to bring other liability actions (Article 132(3) CPC).Top
Last update: 29-03-2007