On 4 April 2014 the Government passed a Bill for reforming the Organic Law on the Judiciary which, in the event of being consolidated and taking effect, will entail a profound change in Justice Administration, and is expected to have an impact on all judicial agents, whether justiciable or legal professionals in their different categories (magistrates, lawyers, court clerks etc…).
The most relevant civil aspects of the main new elements of this reform are summarised below:
1- New and in-depth organisation of the Courts
Establishing of what are known as Provincial Courts of Enquiry, which replace the former Courts of First Instance.
Those Courts will be comprised of judicial units (single guardianship judges) or collegiate sections. The sections will have knowledge of affairs which due to their relevance must be dealt with by a body of at least three judges.
The JPs and Court Clerks will now be known as Counsellors at Law.
2- Significant extension of the functions of the Higher Courts of Justic
Those courts will have knowledge of appeals (these actions were formerly carried out by the Provincial Courts).
3- Binding nature of the Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court
With a view to increasing legal safety, on a quarterly basis the Supreme Court plenary session will be able to decide which aspects of its jurisprudence are binding.
The elected ones will be published in the Official State Gazette.
4- The month of August is declared a business month
5- Prior jurisprudential issues
They may be submitted to the Supreme Court by the judicial units or judicial sections. The above is done with the purpose of clarifying contradictory jurisprudence of the High Court and/or contradictions with the doctrine of the Constitution Court and/or if it is considered that Supreme Court Jurisprudence may lead to situations of clear injustice.