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The ordinary jurisdiction

Structure of the judicial function

Jurisdictional orders of the spanish justice

Civil | Criminal | Judicial review | Employment


The nature of the action determines each of the orders into which the judicial function is structured. The ordinary jurisdiction is divided into four jurisdictional orders:


■ Civil: this order examines matters relating to private law, with the exception of those pertaining to employment law and, in particular, matters governed by Civil and Commercial Law (obligations, property, trading companies, parentage, marriage, etc.). It also tries litigation cases not expressly assigned to another jurisdictional order. This order also hears cases relating to property located in Spanish territory or entities registered in Spain, or when the defendant is resident in Spanish territory. It may accordingly be regarded as the ordinary or general jurisdictional order.

Criminal: the criminal jurisdictional order is competent to hear criminal actions and cases, except those within the scope of the jurisdiction of the military order (court martials). It is a feature of Spanish law that a civil action arising from facts constituting an offence may be brought in conjunction with the criminal action. When this occurs, it is the criminal court that awards civil damages in respect of the serious or minor offence.

Jurisdictional orders of the spanish justice

Jurisdictional orders of the spanish justice


■ Judicial review: this jurisdictional order is concerned with the review of actions of the executive branch of government subject to administrative law, claims for State liability, and review of the use of delegated regulatory powers.

■ Employment: this order hears claims brought within the employment branch of law: individual disputes between workers and employers in respect of employment contracts, class employment disputes, claims regarding Social Security issues, and claims against the State wherever employment legislation establishes State liability.

Each jurisdictional order contains organs specialising in specific fields. The civil order, for instance, comprises courts of first instance, commercial courts, and family law courts; the criminal order comprises examining courts, criminal courts, gender-based violence courts, prison supervision courts and juvenile courts.

Military jurisdiction falls outside the ordinary jurisdiction, and prosecutes offences under the Military Criminal Code and in cases of a state of siege, thereby constituting an exception to the principle of jurisdictional unity.

Source: – Ministerio de la Presidencia (CIF S-2811001-C). Complejo de la Moncloa 28071 Madrid – 05/12/2023

Law Offices of Palladino Pellón & Associates – Criminal Defense Lawyers | Jurisdictional orders of the spanish justice