Dispute resolution

New changes in the Spanish civil procedure are effective from 20 March

Published on 22nd Mar 2024

A series of far-reaching changes in the procedural system will have a significant impact on the daily work of professionals as well as on companies

Old Bailey court

The civil procedural reform introduced by the Royal Decree-Law 6/2023 came into force on 20 March and all proceedings commenced after this date will be affected by the new developments.

Some of them, such as the first summons received by electronic means, will have a major impact on companies. However, the legal reform has a much wider scope. These are some of the most significant changes:

Oral and ordinary proceedings

Firstly, the limit on the amount that can be claimed through these proceedings has been raised from €6,000 to €15,000. Ordinary proceedings based on the amount owed are now reserved for proceedings where the value of the claim is over €15,000.

Secondly, a series of matters have been added which, regardless of the amount involved, must be settled using oral proceedings. These are: individual actions relating to general contracting conditions, claims for payment filed by owners associations and actions for the division of common property.

Procedural acts

If possible, procedural acts must be carried out through electronic means (for example, trials, hearings, appearances or statements), provided that the judicial offices have the necessary technical means. 

The law provides an exception for statements or examinations of parties, witnesses and experts, who must, as a general rule, be present in person. However, now these people will be able to request permission to make their statements via electronic means when they reside in a municipality other than that of the court's headquarters – although they will have to testify from what the law calls a "safe place". 

Expert reports

The time limit for submitting expert reports in oral proceedings have been shortened.

If it is not possible to submit the expert report with the statement of claim or the statement of defence, it must be provided within 30 days from the filing of the pleading (and not five days before the hearing, as was the case before the reform). 


Appeals must be filed with, and processed by, the court that is going to rule on the case. It will no longer have to be lodged with the court that has issued the decision that is to be appealed against.

Likewise, the extraordinary appeal for breach of procedure is eliminated and the cassation appeal is now the only remedy available to appeal decisions made by the Provincial Courts.

Preferential proceedings

A new type of proceedings has been introduced. Preferential proceedings (procedimiento testigo) are provided for individual actions relating to general contracting conditions, as long as certain requirements are met.

When there are several proceedings relating to general contracting conditions which are substantially identical, one of them can be selected to be treated as preferential and will be resolved urgently. The other proceedings may be suspended pending resolution on the preferential proceeding.

When a final decision is issued, the litigants in the other suspended proceedings may withdraw the claim, continue with the suspended proceedings or request the extension of the resolution delivered in the preferential proceedings.

Unfair terms

In claims for attorneys' and court representatives' fees, the judge can now examine the contract signed between the lawyer and the client and determine whether it contains unfair terms.

In addition, in the order for payment procedure, if the judge determines that unfair terms have been used, he or she may propose an injunction for payment where the unfair terms are not taken into account.

Grace periods

Grace periods are applicable to both substantive and procedural deadlines. Limitation and prescription periods have been extended until 15:00 on the working day following the expiry of  the deadline.


* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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