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null 12. JUSTICE OFFICES IN THE MUNICIPALITIES

12. JUSTICE OFFICES IN THE MUNICIPALITIES

The Justice of the Peace Courts, according to LOPJ, article 99, are located in all municipalities where there is no Civil Trial and Criminal Investigations Court, which means that there are currently around 7,600 in Spain. Of these, 1,109 have their own facilities and Justice Administration officials serving in them, - 2,700 at present plus the respective justices of the peace who are not professionals. The resident population in these municipalities is more than 14 million inhabitants.

After almost two centuries of the Peace Courts’ existence, the competences that had historically been attributed to them have been reduced to those auxiliary to the Civil Registry and the practice of certain acts of communication requested by way of judicial assistance. The former are destined to disappear in the short term with the entry into force of the new civil registry law and its removal from the judicial system; the latter with the full introduction of electronic communications.

This situation means that considerable economic resources are being devoted to supporting an administrative structure that does not provide sufficient services to citizens, while a significant number of citizens (30.45% of the Spanish population) have to travel to the head municipality of the judicial district to which they belong, or even to the capital of their province, to carry out legal proceedings or simply to access or request documentation of the proceedings in which they are a party.

The Justice Offices project aims to respond to both problems, by offering citizens services without having to travel - as has been the case until now - while at the same time taking advantage of the resources currently available in these municipalities. In this way, service accessibility is reinforced throughout the territory, especially in areas at risk of depopulation, and an intermediation is generated for people who have difficulties taking advantage of digitalization, especially the elderly.

The aim is for these offices to provide service to citizens, not only during the judicial proceedings to which they are parties, but also in other matters related to different areas of the Public Administration. A first approximation of the services to be provided would be the following:

  • General information on the status of legal proceedings.
  • Possibility of carrying out any procedural management with any judicial body.
  • Possibility of offering access points in its facilities to judicial personnel who provide services in any Spanish judicial body.
  • To engage in procedural communication acts with citizens residing in the municipality. Facilitate citizens' access to the Civil Registry.
  • ADR services provision.

The staff serving in the current Magistrates' Courts are called upon to play a prominent role in this project.

This project will be coordinated with other institutions (Ministries, Autonomous Communities and the FEMP) and contemplates the possibility of progressively extending services such as access to certificates, the status of procedures in other Administrations or the possibility of using the Office as a co-working space for staff from any Administration, taking advantage of the infrastructures set up for the Public Justice Service. It is a tool for territorial and social cohesion and inter-administrative efficiency.

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