Can I Defend Myself in Court in Spain?

In Hollywood law series and courtroom movies, it is often an exciting script twist for one of the characters to decide to defend themselves in court. However, the Spanish judicial system is very different from the one we see represented on the small or big screen, so it is worth asking if possible, in this country? Can I defend myself in court? The answer to these questions is found in the figure of the procedural postulation.


The Procedural Postulation

Spain’s procedural system starts from considering that citizens do not know the right and, therefore, do not have the procedural capacity, being necessary, as a general rule, that every person, natural or legal, intervenes in a trial represented by a solicitor and defended by an attorney. However, Spain’s Civil Procedure Law has certain exceptions, although before seeing what these assumptions are, it is convenient to be clear about the differences between the two legal professionals. They intervene before the judge to defend our interests.


Cases in Which a Lawyer or Attorney Is Not Required

Although as a general rule in Spain, no one can intervene in a trial without a solicitor or lawyer, there are some exceptional cases in which a person can intervene before the judge on their own without being assisted by these professionals or, colloquially, to “defend themselves herself on trial.”


In Civil Jurisdiction

To the extent that the civil jurisdiction is the one that knows private law, it is in this type of trial that we find more examples in which anyone can go to court and present a document without the signature of a lawyer or attorney:

  • Claims whose amount does not exceed 2000 euros.
  • Demands for an order for payment proceedings; However, if the defendant opposes this claim, the plaintiff must appoint a solicitor and lawyer to continue with the process.
  • Communicate an undisputed credit in a bankruptcy or inheritance process.
  • Assumptions provided for in the Voluntary Jurisdiction Law.
  • It is also possible, in exceptional cases, the request urgent preventive measures. However, at the hearing or trial, the parties must already represent a solicitor and legal assistance.


In any case, the writings that are addressed to the judge must clearly identify the person who signs it, clearly determine the facts that concur in the case, and express, with due separation, the request that we address to the judge or the object of what we intend to obtain from the trial that we initiate preceded by the expression “I beg.”


In the Criminal Jurisdiction

In criminal jurisdiction, it is possible that a citizen who has known about the commission of a crime, especially if it turns out to be the victim, may file a complaint with the court directly, in the same way that he would before the city guard or the policeman. For this act, in principle, no lawyer or attorney is required, although it will be needed for the following phases of the process, even further ratification being necessary. For the rest, the only exception that is possible before the jurisdiction is trials of minor crimes, formerly known as trials of misdemeanors.


Labor and Contentious-Administrative Jurisdictions

In the social order, workers can appear before the courts and tribunals without the need for a solicitor or lawyer, or social graduate to request related civil measures from the judge, such as a claim for quantity and the requirements we have indicated for civil jurisdiction. On the contrary, in the contentious administrative order, it is impossible to intervene in court without a lawyer or attorney. In short, there are some cases in which we can defend our own interests before the judge without the need for a lawyer. However, given the particularities and complications of Spain’s procedural law and the high technical level that characterizes it, it will always be advisable to have advice from a well-qualified lawyer.


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