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DID THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT NULLIFY ALL THE JUDICIAL RATES?

On 29th July 2016 became public the judgment of the TC (STC 140/2016) which resolved the appeal against the "Law 10/2012 amending certain rates are regulated in the field of Administration of Justice and the National Institute of toxicology and Forensic Science"declaring the unconstitutionality and invalidity of the rates set for both access to the Courts as to the application for considering that the amounts were disproportionate and violated the right to the effective judicial protection under Article 24.1 of the Spanish Constitution.

According to what we have read and heard in the media, from 15 August  2016 judicial rates (tasas judiciales) would not be required any longer and therefore would not be necessary to present the application 696 of liquidation of the rate. We may recall that we are referring to court rates for legal entities (companies), since individuals have already been exempted by the Royal Decree Law 1/2015. Criminal jurisdiction was always exempted.

In principle, the Constitutional Court (TC) understands that the rates for the exercise of legal action does neither infringe the right to effective judicial protection (art . 24 of the Constitution) nor the principle of free access to justice (art. 119 of the Constitution). The reason is that , as he understood the TC, there are grounds for exemption and flexibiltity payment of rates for thhose legal entities that do not have sufficient resources to litigate. The TC argues that concludes the rates (both fixed rates and variable rates) are disproportionate and can produce a deterrent effect when recourse to the Courts in the exercise of fundamental right to effective judicial protection law. In other words, it could be understood that the rate itself is not unconstitutional but excessive amounts are.
Now, you have to see concretely what are the canceled rates. 
The nullity affects paragraphs of Article 7.1 of the Law that estimate the following fixed quotas: 

1) In the contentious-administrative jurisdiction, 200 euros for suing an summarized proceeding appeal and 350 euros for lodging an ordinary proceeding appeal. 

2) In civil matters, the 800 euros to enact appeal and 1,200 euros for appeals and extraordinary procedural infringements. However, fixed quotas for suing a civil declaratory processes are not nullified.
3) Again in the contentious-administrative procedure, rates of 800 euros for the appeal and 1,200 euros for the appeal at the Supreme Court in all its forms.

4) In the labour procedures, rate of 500 euros for suplication appeal and the one of 750 euro to the appeal before the Supreme Court in all its forms.
It has also been declared unconstitutional art. 7.2 of the Law that states a variable rate on a scale ranging from 0.5% of the value of the claim up to 0.25% of such value with a maximum rate of 10,000 euros.

RATES STILL IN VIGOUR

For not being a matter of the constitutional claim, fixed rates established prior to Law 10/2012 remain in force in the civil order, which in effect would mean that, for example, fixed rates of Article 7.1 of the Law for the Verbal Proceeding-Trading Trials (150 euros); Ordinary Proceeding (300 euros); Monitory Proceeding (100 euros); Opposition to extrajudicial execution and Enforcement of Judicial Titles (200 euros) and Necessary Receivership Proceeding (200 euros). The judgment of the TC states: "It is important to clarify therefore the constitutional claim does not raise any question about the fixed fee established in the art. 7.1 of Law 10/2012 for civil proceedings in first or single instance (depending on the type of procedure the rate would be quoted between 100 euro for Monitory procedure and 300 euro for the Ordinary one), which prevents us to rule on this".
BENEFICIARIES OF THE JUDGMENT

Evidently, legal persons (companies), since the entry into force of Royal Decree Law 1/2015 of 27 February individuals were exempted. Legal persons who had recognized the legal aid (proving the requirements for it) were exempted too, the Public Prosecutor Office and the General State Administration, the Autonomous Communities, local authorities and public organizations dependent on all of them, the Parliament, Legislative Assemblies of the Autonomous Communities, plus some other cases in the social jurisdiction. 

Special mention to the Communities of Owners who at first were enforced to pay. Due to the Law reform, the Bindign Consultation V0790-15, of 12 March 2015 determined that the lack of legal personality of Communities of Owners in horizontal property regime and that they act through its Board of Directors and in particular its president, are also exempted.
The TC has not ruled on most of the constitutional complaint alleging lack of justification and therefore there are still items that have been saved from their constitutional revision (as mentioned, due to supervening loss of object because before ruling on the constitutionality rates for individuals, these were annulled). It would have been interesting a general judgment declaring unconstitutional the entire law abolishing it for everyone.

 

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