Spain 1978 Constitution (reviewed 2011)

Table of Contents

PART VI. Judicial Power

Section 117

  1. Justice emanates from the people and is administered on behalf of the King by judges and magistrates members of the Judicial Power who shall be independent, shall have fixity of tenure, shall be accountable for their acts and subject only to the rule of law.
  2. Judges and magistrates may only be dismissed, suspended, transferred or retired on the grounds and subject to the safeguards provided for by the law.
  3. The exercise of judicial authority in any kind of action, both in ruling and having judgments executed, is vested exclusively in the courts and tribunals laid down by the law, in accordance with the rules of jurisdiction and procedure which may be established therein.
  4. Judges and courts shall not exercise any powers other than those indicated in the foregoing subsection and those which are expressly allocated to them by law as a guarantee of any right.
  5. The principle of jurisdictional unity is the basis of the organization and operation of the courts. The law shall make provision for the exercise of military jurisdiction strictly within military framework and in cases of state of siege (martial law), in accordance with the principles of the Constitution.
  6. Courts of exception are prohibited.

Section 118

It is compulsory to comply with sentences and other final resolutions of judges and courts, as well as to pay them such assistance as they may require in the course of trials and for the execution of judgments.

Section 119

Justice shall be free when thus provided for by law, and shall in any case be so in respect of those who have insufficient means to sue in court.

Section 120

  1. Judicial proceedings shall be public, with the exceptions contemplated in the laws on procedure.
  2. Proceedings shall be predominantly oral, especially in criminal cases.
  3. Judgments shall always specify the grounds therefore, and they shall be delivered in a public hearing.

Section 121

Damages caused by judicial error as well as those arising from irregularities in the administration of justice shall give rise to a right to compensation by the State, in accordance with the law.

Section 122

  1. The Organic Act of the Judicial Power shall make provision for the setting up, operation and internal administration of courts and tribunals as well as for the legal status of professional judges and magistrates, who shall form a single body, and of the staff serving in the administration of justice.
  2. The General Council of the Judicial Power is its governing body. An organic act shall lay down its status and the system of incompatibilities applicable to its members and their functions, especially in connection with appointments, promotions, inspection and the disciplinary system.
  3. The General Council of the Judicial Power shall consist of the President of the Supreme Court, who shall preside it, and of twenty members appointed by the King for a five-year period, of which twelve shall be judges and magistrates of all judicial categories, under the terms provided for by the organic act; four nominated by the Congress and four by the Senate, elected in both cases by three-fifths of their members amongst lawyers and other jurists of acknowledged competence with more than fifteen years of professional practice.

Section 123

  1. The Supreme Court, with jurisdiction over the whole of Spain, is the highest judicial body in all branches of justice, except with regard to provisions concerning constitutional guarantees.
  2. The President of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the King, on the General Council of the Judicial Power proposal in the manner to be laid down by the law.

Section 124

  1. The Office of Public Prosecutor, without prejudice to functions entrusted to other bodies, has the task of promoting the operation of justice in the defence of the rule of law, of citizens’ rights and of the public interest as safeguarded by the law, whether ex officio or at the request of interested parties, as well as that of protecting the independence of the courts and securing before them the satisfaction of social interest.
  2. The Office of Public Prosecutor shall discharge its duties through its own bodies in accordance with the principles of unity of operation and hierarchical subordination, subject in all cases to the principles of the rule of law and of impartiality.
  3. The organic statute of the Office of the Public Prosecutor shall be laid down by law.
  4. The State’s Public Prosecutor shall be appointed by the King on the Government’s proposal after consultation with the General Council of the Judicial Power.

Section 125

Citizens may engage in popular action and take part in the administration of justice through the institution of the jury, in the manner and with respect to those criminal trials as may be determined by law, as well as in customary and traditional courts.

Section 126

The judicial police shall report to the judges, the courts and the Public Prosecutor when discharging their duties of crime investigation and the discovery and arrest of offenders, under the terms to be laid down by the law.

Section 127

  1. Judges and magistrates as well as public prosecutors, whilst actively in office, may not hold other public office nor belong to political parties or unions. The law shall make provision for the system and methods of professional association for judges, magistrates and prosecutors.
  2. The law shall make provision for the system of incompatibilities for members of the Judicial Power, which must ensure their total independence.