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Do you need legal advice?
If you have a problem that you need help with, you may need legal advice to resolve it. You can get help from a legal adviser who specialises in your problem such as a lawyer.
Finding a legal adviser
You may want to talk to someone who can give you general advice about your options first. A local advice agency such as a the College of lawyers (Colegio de Abogados) or the Citizens Advice Bureau, will also be able to give you details of legal advisers who are experienced in the appropriate area of law. They may also have details of local legal advisers who offer free initial interviews, this may help you decide whether it’s worth taking your case further. Citizens Advice Bureau Spain can put you in touch for a free initial consultancy with a lawyer who has expertise in the area you need.
Legal aid lawyers:
You may be entitled to legal aid in Spain. It is quite easy to obtain this free service if you meet the criteria. You basically need to be a resident and on a low income. Pensioners who have the tarjeta 65 (sixty five card in Andalusia or the equivalent in other regions) are entitled to free legal assistance. (Abogado de oficio) To inquire about entitlement, visit an office of the ‘colegio de abogados’ which are to be found in most mayor towns. You can also google adding the name of your town. If you do not find one in your area there, visit your local courthouse and they will advise you where to go.
I am afraid I have to add this footnote. These lawyers are normal lawyers who also offer these service. You will unfortunately only get what is paid for. If possible, pay for a lawyer.
If you have reported someone or been reported.
Think before you report someone. Follow up your case. If you have been denounced, do not expect the police to knock on your door to advise you, if not interviewed it is likely that you will be served with a notification of a court appearance. This often surprises those who have no idea that the matter has progressed to this stage and could even be months after the incident. For both sides, seek legal representation. You will be advised by court clerks that if you do not have a lawyer, the court will provide you with one. You will have a few minutes to discuss your case and no guarantee of a lawyer that speaks your language. You may be told there will be a translator available. Do not count on this and make your own arrangement. The language in Spain is Castilian or regional languages. Do not expect to use any other language in court proceedings.
Cases in Spain can take years to come up in court. Follow your case.
A dencuncia can be presented either to the national police, Guardia Civil or in your local courts. It is advisable to place this complaint with the assistance of a lawyer. The importance of using a lawyer of course taking into account that the denuncia should be in the Spanish language, but principally for the reason that the lawyer can avoid you introducing elements into the complaint that could be detrimental to you.
Afraid to say but true, those who have no representation or adequate legal representation, could lose the case. Whether you are the plaintiff or defendant, you must turn up at court. Defendants or witnesses who ignore the summons, can find themselves under what is known as ‘busca y captura’ (search and capture). Many have been escorted off a plane under arrest when arriving back in Spain.
If you have been arrested?
If you are in a police station or in a Spanish court, you should be aware that you are by law, entitled to legal representation. The police station may call in a duty lawyer and a court will also provide a duty officer. Citizens Advice Bureau Spain advise that you contact a lawyer of your choice at your earliest opportunity. You are advised to not appear in court without legal representation no matter the type of case or even if attending as a witness. In an emergency you may contact the Citizens Advice Bureau. Telephone 0034 615 814 264 who will attempt to find an available lawyer.
There are list of fees available from the Spanish law society (colegio de abogados) which can give some guidelines. You should clarify the fees with your lawyers before you instruct him/her. There are often unseen costs as it can be impossible to know the direction or time any one case will take.
Conditional and Contingency Fee Agreements (no-win, no-fee)
Commonly known as ‘no win no fee’, the correct terminology is a contingency or conditional fee agreement. The equivalent in Spanish is known as ‘Cuota Litis’. When subscribing to this type of contract, the client should clearly understand the type of agreement that he is entering into before signing the engagement letter.
It was not until 2008 when a court case set a precedent for lawyers in Spain to be able to offer their clients their services on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. This form of agreement is now being recognised by lawyers who will usually offer this fee condition when they have confident of the outcome. There are some facts that a client should take into consideration when entering into this type of legal agreement. Many clients are confused when reading the contract and are not aware that if they lose the case or if the other side is not sentenced to pay court cost and or other fees, that the client could be liable.
This contingency fee agreement means that you enter into an agreement with the lawyer who takes on your case on the condition that; if you lose you may pay some costs. The lawyer takes the risk that he will not be paid and will almost always have covered the court costs and the attorney fees. To date I am not aware if there is an insurance in Spain that a client could take out to cover this eventuality as there is in the UK.
Fees will normally be gauged on a percentage of what you recover. Remember that you are also paying for the lawyers success and the fact that he/she will be using their money to pay any costs in advance. There could also be a team of of lawyers involved and their time is also money. Spanish lawyers do not enter into to this type of pact lightly.
If you are entering into a conditional fee arrangement and you need advise or clarification you can contact Citizens Advice Bureau Spain.
For further information contact: email@example.com putting the concept as ‘lawyer’.