Sunday, 6 July 2008

Spanish courts backlog

Figures have just been published for performance by the courts in 2007. 8.3 million new cases were opened during the year and just over 8.2 million were concluded, leaving a carry-over of 91,000 cases. Of course, court cases don't fit neatly into accounting periods and so on the face of it this looks a pretty good performance. However, the consequence of adding this carry-over to the existing backlog is that the courts started the year 2008 with a total of of just over 2.4 million cases.

Court performance in terms of throughput has been improved, but the official projection for the year is that new cases will grow by 2.6% in 2008, whilst the number of cases concluded will rise by only 0.6%, with a predicted growth in the number of outstanding cases of 55,000, so that 2009 is likely to open with more than 2.5 million unresolved cases.

The 8.2 million cases concluded in 2007 comprised 6.3 million criminal cases, 1.5 million civil and 0.4 million 'others'.

In human terms what these problems mean is illustrated by a case reported recently in "Sur" the Andalucia daily; in December 2005, shortly before Christmas a youth was stabbed to death outside a disco in Ronda. The two suspects subsequently charged with the murder were arrested at the scene minutes after the attack. Tomorrow (7th July 2008) their trial will open - a delay of two and a half years in the victim's family's wait for justice, nd in the suspects' time on remand awaiting trial.