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Need To Testify In Spanish Court But Abroad?

Posted in: The Law In Spain
Author: Richelle de Wit
Tags: ,

When you are called as a witness in a courtcase in Spain, but are not in the country, or have to travel from out of town to attend,  the law provides for the possibility to participate in the case by means of videoconferencing, through Skype for example. But in practice, this possibility is not used very often, mainly because the courts lack technical provisions to facilitate this, but also because lawyers fail to request this particular way to testify with the relevant judge for witnesses that need to come from out of town or even out of the country, resulting in unnecessary expense and trouble for those involved, especially when the case is suspended, which happens quite often.

From the Ley de Poder Judicial, article introduced in 2003

Artículo 229 LOPJ:

1. Las actuaciones judiciales serán predominantemente orales, sobre todo en materia criminal, sin perjuicio de su documentación.

2. Las declaraciones, interrogatorios, testimonios, careos, exploraciones, informes, ratificación de los periciales y vistas, se llevarán a efecto ante juez o tribunal con presencia o intervención, en su caso, de las partes y en audiencia pública, salvo lo dispuesto en la ley.

3. Estas actuaciones podrán realizarse a través de videoconferencia u otro sistema similar que permita la comunicación bidireccional y simultánea de la imagen y el sonido y la interacción visual, auditiva y verbal entre dos personas o grupos de personas geográficamente distantes, asegurando en todo caso la posibilidad de contradicción de las partes y la salvaguarda del derecho de defensa, cuando así lo acuerde el juez o tribunal.

En estos casos, el secretario judicial del juzgado o tribunal que haya acordado la medida acreditará desde la propia sede judicial la identidad de las personas que intervengan a través de la Videoconferencia en la declaración de un testigo videoconferencia mediante la previa remisión o la exhibición directa de documentación, por conocimiento personal o por cualquier otro medio procesal idóneo.

Article 229 LOPJ:

1. The judicial proceedings will be predominantly oral, especially in criminal matters, without prejudice to their documentation.

2. The statements, interrogations, testimonies, confrontations, explorations, reports, ratification of expert opinions and hearings will be carried out before a judge or court with presence or intervention, as the case may be, of the parties and at a public hearing, except as provided in the law.

3. These actions may be carried out through videoconferencing or another similar system that allows the bidirectional and simultaneous communication of the image and sound and the visual, auditory and verbal interaction between two people or groups of geographically distant persons, ensuring in any case the possibility of contradiction of the parties and the safeguarding of the right of defense, when the judge or court so decides.

In these cases, the court clerk of the court or tribunal that has agreed to the measure will accredit from the judicial office itself the identity of the persons intervening through the Video Conferencing in the declaration of a videoconference witness through the prior referral or direct display of documentation, by personal knowledge or by any other suitable procedural means.

 

The witness is not authorized to ask the Court to make their statement via videoconference as he is not a party to the procedure, but can contact the Legal Counsel who has proposed or the Public Prosecutor if he is one of the witnesses he wants to use in the trial, to request that he declares by videoconference. Hence the importance that it is the Lawyer who requests it (when he deems it appropriate) of the Judge.

Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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