New rules for proceedings to be carried out in the Courts
5 of June, 2020
Law No. 16/2020, of 2020-05-29, amends the exceptional and temporary measures to respond to the COVID-19 disease pandemic, making the fourth amendment to the Law No. 1-A/2020, of March 19, to the first amendment to the Law No. 9/2020, of 10 April, and the twelfth amendment to the Decree-Law No. 10-A/2020, of March 13.
Thus, a transitional and exceptional procedural regime was created, which determines the suspension of deadlines for processes and procedures, however, the following exceptions are reserved:
- Within the deadline for submitting the debtor to insolvency;
- In the acts to be carried out in the context of executive proceedings or insolvency proceedings relating to the judicial delivery of the family home;
- In eviction actions, in special eviction procedures and in processes for delivery of leased property, when the lessee may be placed in a fragile situation;
- In the prescription and expiry periods relating to the processes and procedures referred to in the preceding paragraphs;
- In the statute of limitations and expiry periods referring to proceedings whose proceedings-trials and examination of witnesses – cannot be carried out through means of distance communication, other proceedings that require physical presence and which cannot be carried out in person, as well as procedural acts or insolvency related to sales and judicial deliveries of real estate, which are likely to cause damage to the livelihood of the debtor or the person declared insolvent.
As a rule, procedural acts and procedures will be processed in the normal terms, except for discussion and judgment hearings and other steps that require the questioning of witnesses, since, with regard to these steps, the following must be taken into account:
- The aforementioned steps will preferably be carried out in person, observing the maximum number of people and other safety, hygiene and health rules defined by the DGS;
- Alternatively, by means of distance communication, namely teleconferences, video calls or other equivalent:
- However, the provision of statements by the accused or the testimony of witnesses or a party must always be made in a court, although there may be an agreement between the parties to the contrary, or representatives and interveners who are over 70 years of age, immunocompromised or have chronic disease;
- During the preparatory debate and the trial session, the presence of the accused is guaranteed when the statements of the same, the co-defendant and the witnesses take place.
Regarding the services of prisons, they must ensure, following the guidelines of the DGS, the necessary conditions for defenders to be able to confer in person with the defendants in the preparation of the defence.
Finally, all Courts must be equipped with the means of protection and disinfectants determined by the DGS.