Can I sue in Spain?
Whether you can bring a lawsuit in Spanish courts will always depend on the type of lawsuit and sometimes, the parties involved. The types of cases can generally be put into three categories, debt collection, family law, and commercial disputes.
Debt collection is the most straightforward in terms of jurisdiction. If the debtor is domiciled in Spain, you can bring your action there. Before you file a lawsuit however, you will first need to go through a non-judicial process. This will involve sending a certified fax request along with proper documentation such as the invoice to the debtor. If you do not find a solution through this process, you can then file an action in court to collect the debt. The action must be filed in the court where the debtor is domiciled.
For a family law case, European union regulations will apply. In the case of a divorce, a petition can be brough in Spain if:
- Both spouses have lived in Spain for at least a year or 6 months in the case of Spanish nationals.
- At least one spouse remains in Spain after both spouses have lived there.
- The party not filing for divorce (respondent) lives in Spain.
- The spouses are filing jointly and one of them lives in Spain.
- Both spouses are Spanish citizens.
For cases involving parental responsibilities such as child support, a suit may be brought in Spain if the child in question lives in Spain or within 3 months of the child moving from Spain to another EU country. If the child has moved to a non-EU country, it will depend on what agreements Spain has with the country in question.
In cases of child abduction, you may bring a suit in Spain if the child involved habitually lived there within the last year. This is the case for both EU countries and countries that have signed the Hague convention on child abduction.
Generally speaking, you can sue someone in Spain so long as they are domiciled there. For a dispute between people that are both citizens of EU countries, the following cases could be brought:
- A contract meant to be performed in Spain
- A tort that occurred in Spain
- Recovering damages awarded in a Spanish court
- Against an insurance company if the beneficiary is in Spain
- Dispute over property held in Spain
If you are not a citizen of an EU country, similar rules apply as to what cases can be brought in Spain, however enforcing a Spanish judgment in a non-EU country may be more difficult.
Somewhat related is the enforcement of foreign judgments in Spain. Foreign judgments can be enforced in Spanish courts so long as the court that issued the judgment respected the rights of due process and justice as determined under Spanish law. Foreign judgments can be brought to Spain if the person against whom they are enforced or the person whom they will most affect, lives in Spain.
Author: Helen Pino Vera