Chaos in Spain over thousands of fines during a state of alarm

by Lorraine Williamson
Spanish court - state of alarm fines

MADRID – Chaos in Spain because of the thousands of fines issued since the State of Alarm for breaking the law. Spanish courts are also struggling to cope. This is evident from the various conclusions about whether or not to pay the fines. 

In some cities and provinces, the courts cancelled the fines imposed en masse. While in other regions, people are still facing legal prosecution to pay the fines. Moreover, regional governments and courts do not seem to be using the same criteria. Chaos everywhere in Spain, the Spanish news site El Confidencial wrote on Monday morning.

Police Spain issued more than 1 million fines 

This uncertainty is not a problem affection only a few Spaniards. According to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, 1,142,127 fines have been issued throughout Spain. This was during the first state of alarm from March 14 to June 21 2020. Although, to date, more than half of these have been waived. However, where this is not the case, those affected will continue to face payment reminders. And even legal follow-up after failing to pay the fines on time.

How did this chaos arise in Spain? 

Part of the chaos is due to the large number of fines and the fact that regional administrations have not been able to process these numbers correctly and on time. The Spanish government has been struggling for a long time with a staff shortage for these positions and since the fines have to be processed within a set period of time, and this deadline cannot always be met, a large proportion has been cancelled.

Apart from this, according to law firms, there were also flawed – or nonexistent – legal arrangements as to the nature of the offenses during the state of alert. Incorrect wording of the violation meant that part of the fines could be waived. However, challenging these fines because of the wording has not proved successful in all regions of Spain.

Success formula to avoid paying state of alarm fines? 

To date, several people have gone to court because they disagreed with the fine. Courts run into the same legal chaos and ambiguity when it comes to regulations during the state of alert. While there does not seem to be a unanimous formula for success to avoid paying the fine, residents of certain provinces in Spain seem to be more fortunate than others.

For example, courts in Pontevedra, Córdoba, Oviedo, Vigo, Segovia, Logroño, Valladolid and León agreed with the prosecutors and annulled the fines that had been imposed. In other cities such as Cáceres and Pamplona, the fines remained in effect after being handled by the courts and had to be paid.

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