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Meeting of 26th January 2012

Meeting of 26th January 2012

Speaker: Honourable Judge Juan Jose Navas; who spoke in English

The judge spoke about the main differences in Structure and Functioning of the Spanish and the English/Welsh legal and judicial systems. These proved to be totally different. He told us that under the Spanish system there are 4 types of legal process: Civil, Criminal, Administrative and Industrial (labour and employment) which are all dealt with in the same court system; whereas in the English system there are only Civil and Criminal legal processes which have separate courts and structures.

The Spanish court system operates more like a tribunal. The judicial system is inquisitorial and the Judge initiates the inquiry and instructs the Prosecutor and police on the areas to be investigated. The laws are defined by Civil and Criminal codes. The court system is very slow.

The Judges follow a judicial career which they enter by competetive exam. To British people, the Judges can seem very young. In contrast the English/Welsh legal system includes a completely separate group of Tribunals which have been developed to keep small cases from blocking up the courts. The legal processes are much faster. The court system is accusational and is initiated either by a wronged individual or the Crown Prosecution Service. Judges do not become involved in the investigation. Common Law, developed over hundreds of years, is the main source of law and there are no legal codes. There is also no career judiciary. Judges are appointed from experienced solicitors and barristers and are, therefore, much older when they start to judge cases.

There were a large number of questions and Judge Navas was persuaded to speak briefly about his own speciality in Domestic Violence cases. The meeting was brought to a close with some difficulty as some members wanted to ask further questions.