Chaos in the Spanish justice system due to the strike of lawyers

by Lorraine Williamson
lawyers strike

MADRID – Since January 24, lawyers in Spain have been on strike, resulting in 146,000 cancelled hearings and lawsuits. The highest judicial body in Spain (CGPJ) calculates that the strike has already paralysed €1.3 billion in payments. 

Due to the strike of the Lawyers of the Administration of Justice (LAJ), court payments across Spain have come to a standstill for an amount of almost €1,286 million, according to CGPJ. That is almost double what the callers themselves estimated. 

These data were put forward on Friday by the ICAM, the college of lawyers in Madrid. On Thursday, negotiations between the Justice Department and state administration lawyers broke down after a meeting lasting around 15 hours. The ministry maintained it had already complied with the demand for salary adjustments and believes that further demands are not “justified”. Consequently, the lawyers say they will continue to strike until their demands are met. 

More responsibilities, so more salary 

The striking lawyers are demanding that the government adjust their salary conditions in line with the increase in work they have endured since 2010. They want to receive 85% of a judge’s salary. “We have the same responsibility as judges”, say the lawyers themselves. They also refer to an agreement they allegedly reached with the Ministry of Justice in April. They want this agreement on linking their salary in line with the increase in work to be fulfilled.  

When a citizen goes to court for, for example, a dismissal or a compensation claim, the lawyer is present during almost the entire process. This is partly because several reforms since 2009 have forced them to take on a large part of the tasks of the judge. The judge, outside of his functions, only intervenes in these processes when required to do so by the attorney due to a possible defect and is the only one with the authority to deny a claim. The lawyers claim their work has increased by 70% since 2009 as a result of these reforms in the legal system.  

About 65% of the procedural activity is at a standstill 

Due to the strikes, all these processes are postponed. According to the LAJ, the indefinite strike has been followed by 73-85% of lawyers in the more than three weeks it has been going on. The ministry comes up with a follow percentage between 18.9-33.9%. The difference in figures can partly be explained because the lawyers also include those on leave in the strikes. According to them, about 65% of the procedural activity is at a standstill. 

It is estimated that it will take months, if not longer, for the justice system to process this strike, which has no end in sight, and its consequences. Meanwhile, the missed hearings and lawsuits continue to pile up daily. 

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