Digital Justice: impact of new legislation in the Spanish Administration of Justice

  • 26 March 2024 26 March 2024
  • UK & Europe

  • Commercial Disputes

Spain has taken actions to modernise its judicial system through technological advancements and by reforming the civil procedure itself via Royal Decree-Law 6/2023 (“RDL 6/2023”), which is effective from the 20th of March 2024.

The RDL represents a significant milestone in the transformation of the Spanish judicial system, driving advancements in digitalisation and procedural efficiency. However, this change, situated within the framework of the Recovery, Transformation, and Resilience Plan funded by Next Generation EU funds, gives rise to apprehensions and challenges that warrant a critical evaluation. This briefing will delve into these concerns, focusing specifically on civil procedure.

Entry into force

The digital transformation measures came into force on 9 January 2024 and the key procedural developments on 20 March 2024. Even though, there is a timeframe until 30 November 2025 for the technological systems to be fully operational, the fact remains that not all Public Administrations in Spain are ready to fully implement the digital transformation measures.

Technological Challenges

All interactions between the Spanish Public Administrations and legal entities [1] shall be conducted exclusively through telematic channels. This measure drives the speeding up of the digitalisation process, with all the benefits associated with this initiative.

Furthermore, regarding civil proceedings, it is foreseen that all communication, and procedural acts, including hearings and preliminary hearings, will be conducted through telematic means, without prejudice to witnesses, experts, and parties being required to attend the hearings in person. RDL 6/2023 stipulates that even the initial summonses may be served electronically or via a platform that will function as a notice board, accessible on the Internet.

In this context, it remains imperative for both legal entities and legal practitioners to consistently monitor and prevent the oversight of electronic notifications published in the e-government offices of the Administration of Justice. As such, although RDL 6/2023 provides mechanisms to ease the workload for legal entities handling a high volume of cases, these measures may also entail an elevation of responsibility, an augmented workload, and the potential emergence of new scenarios entailing the professional liability of lawyers and court representatives.

While acknowledging the positive nature of this initiative, the timeframe between the publication of the RDL 6/2023 and the enforcement of the comprehensive measures may be considered insufficient to enhance the actual readiness of all involved parties to adapt to this change and ensure compliance with the newly imposed obligations.

Relevant amendments to civil proceedings

RDL 6/2023 incorporates pertinent amendments to Law 1/2000, on Civil Procedure which, in principle, will only apply to judicial proceedings initiated after 20th March 2020 [2].

In Spain, there are two types of procedures: the Ordinary Proceeding and the Fast-track Proceeding (procedimiento verbal). Among the reforms included in RDL 6/2023 is the modification of the amount of dispute that determines whether a procedure should be processed through one or the other procedure. Thus, the amount in dispute required for a proceeding to be processed through the Ordinary proceeding has been significantly increased [3]. This measure would probably imply a reduction of the workload of courts as Fast-track Proceeding only involves a single hearing, instead of the preliminary hearing and trial which are normally conducted through Ordinary Proceedings.

Likewise, one of the most notable amendments to the Fast-track Proceeding involves a significant change in the time limit for submitting expert opinions. RDL 6/2023 introduces a substantial modification by limiting this period to thirty (30) days from the filing of the statement of defence, which allows a more generous timeframe for lawyers and experts to adequately prepare for the hearing.

About appeals, the RDL 6/2023 states that withdrawing the cassation appeal is no longer possible once the deliberation and ruling date has been scheduled. Additionally, the RDL 6/2023 mandates that, in any type of proceedings, appeals must now be submitted before the court of appeal. This amendment suggests that courts of appeal, may bear an additional burden of appeals from various courts, potentially impacting efficiency and response times.

The RDL 6/2023 also introduces innovations, including pilot cases and the extension of the effects of judgments in individual actions related to general terms and conditions. Pilot cases are a mechanism enabling the resolution of substantially identical claims based on the outcome of a single procedure known as a “pilot case procedure”. Once a proceeding is designated as a pilot case, it will be prioritized, and all proceedings with similar claims will be suspended. Consequently, when a judgment is reached in the pilot case procedure, a solution will be provided in identical terms to the other proceedings.


While the ambitious goal of modernizing justice and improving efficiency in the Spanish judicial system is undeniable and much needed, the success of implementation will hinge significantly on addressing several challenges, particularly, in terms of the technological adaptation of public administrations and the increasingly professional liability of legal representatives, lawyers and court representatives when it comes to handling electronic notifications.

Additionally, although the amendments to civil proceedings are intended to reduce the workload of courts and ensure their efficiency, the interpretation of these new amendments are already creating some legal debates, for which law firms will play a key role.

[1] Among those obligated to communicate electronically with the justice system, legal entities and their representatives are included. Individuals, however, are not bound by this requirement and may choose whether to communicate electronically with the Public Administration or not.

[2] This matter does not achieve unanimity. There is ongoing debate within the legal community concerning certain modifications that may potentially impact proceedings initiated before 20 March 2024, notably those about to procedural amendments regarding appeals.

[3] The amount in dispute for cases to be processed through the Ordinary proceeding was previously set at EUR 6,000. With the reform, any procedure exceeding EUR 15,000 will now be processed through the Ordinary proceeding.


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