If your company does business in Spain or with Spanish companies and a conflict arises, prepare yourself or your company for an (unexpected) service of a summons to appear before a Spanish court. If that happens, you do not only have to be prepared, but also act without delay.
The Spanish law governing legal proceedings is most likely not as flexible as it is in your own country. It is likely that you have to act under a time pressure and that you are not in a position to defend yourself with the same legal means as you would have had at home. From the very moment a writ of summons is served to you or anyone in your name, the clock starts ticking and all sorts of legal consequences arise.
Apart from preparing a coherent, complete and ample plea of defence, many technical questions will have to be answered. For example: was the writ of summons served correctly? Was a translation attached? Did the court inform you of the term to file your defence writ and how to do that? Etc.
Regularly, (new) clients contact De Haan & Mulder because they are summoned before a Spanish court. By being cautious and aware of the problems that unfamiliarity with Spanish procedures implies, damages can be brought under control. Time and the lack of it are of the essence.
An example: a Belgian client called us on a Monday. The foregoing Friday, a writ of summons was served to him from the Court of Barcelona. The writ mentioned the twenty day term for filing the defence plea, but did not indicate that this was a fatal term. Fatal term means that under no circumstances would it be possible to file the defence writ after such term or to get an extension of such term.
The served writ did not mention that within this term all arguments and possible proof would have to be filed. It is not allowed to bring forward new arguments or proof, in either the ongoing procedure, or in a possible appeal procedure, after the initial 20-day term.
The served writ did not mention that any appeal alleging lack of competence of the Court of Barcelona would have to be filed not within twenty days, but within only ten days time.
By mentioning these issues during the first conversation, we convinced the client of the possible adverse consequences of procedures and took immediate action.