Court filing fees (“Fees”) are once more a highly relevant topic. On 16 October 2014, the Generalitat de Catalunya published Directive JUS/303/2014 (“Directive”), based on article 104.f of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, approving the procedure and deadlines to settle the new Catalan fees to be applied to civil and contentious-administrative court proceedings.
Article 1 of the Directive includes, as taxable sources of income, the execution of the following actions: a) filing a writ to start proceedings in first or sole instance courts; b) filing an initial writ of an incident to start bankruptcy proceedings; and c) filing an initial writ of the main proceedings, in second or higher instance courts, that must be resolved by the judicial bodies based in Catalunya. Likewise, and according to the same article, the issuance of a second certification and statement of rulings, as well as of other documents included in any legal files, shall also be considered a taxable source of income, in civil and contentious-administrative jurisdictional courts.
The person liable to this tax is anyone who, directly or indirectly, executes one or more of the actions described above. When there are various applicants executing the same taxable action, the Directive specifies that only a single payment should be made. Each of the applicants shall be considered jointly liable and shall have to settle the debt with the Catalan Administration. The amount of the fees ranges between €60 and €120, which, in addition to being described as a deterrent, may negatively impact the right to an effective judicial tutelage.
Concerning the deadlines to file a document, the Directive sets out that fees must be settled within 30 calendar days following the notification confirming that the initial writ regarding the proceedings or incident has been accepted. However, in those cases where the initial writ of the main proceedings is filed in second or higher instance courts and must be resolved by Catalan judicial bodies, it is mandatory to settle the fees as soon as the writs are filed. Although the Directive does not mention it, it is logical to assume that the sanction for not paying the Catalan fees shall be the dismissal of the proceedings, something which also happens when the Spanish court filing fees are not paid.
Article 5 of the Directive sets out that the document to settle the fees should be submitted electronically using the webpage of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In addition, it should be addressed to the Agency for Affairs with the Justice Department (Secretaría de Relaciones con la Administración de Justicia), which shall be the competent body managing and collecting the fee.
Finally, it should be highlighted that the fees shall not affect social or criminal courts. Additionally, the fees shall not have to be settled by anyone receiving free legal advice.