Decree-Law no. 58/2016 was published on 29 August 2016, in
Diário da República, the Portuguese official gazette.
This new Decree- Law makes the provision of priority service
mandatory in the case of people with a disability or incapacity,
old people, pregnant women and people accompanied by infants. The
rule applies to all public and private entities that provide
in-person service to the public. The Decree-Law also establishes a
framework for the administrative penalties that apply in the event
of failure to comply with this obligation.
The new Decree-Law repeals article 9(1) of Decree-Law no. 135/99
of 22 April (republished by Decree-Law no. 73/2014 of 13 May). The
repealed provision only made priority service mandatory for
central, regional and local authorities, and public bodies
providing personalised state services or services relating to
The aim of the new Decree-Law, which extends the requirement for
priority service to all sectors, is to avoid arbitrary treatment
and a total lack of protection for citizens who need priority
service, which are clear violations of the right to equal
The first major change made by the new law is, therefore, the
extension of the existing rule to cover all public or
private legal entities and individuals that provide
in-person service to the public. However, the following are not
subject to this requirement:
Healthcare providers when, in light of the services to be
provided – because the right to protection of health and
access to the provision of healthcare is at play – the order
in which people are served must be established in accordance with
the clinical assessment that is carried out;
Registry offices and other registration bodies, when any change
in the order in which people are served could prejudice the
granting of a subjective right or of an advantageous position
arising from the priority of the registration;
Situations in which in-person service to the public is provided
through a system of prior appointments.
Besides imposing a duty on all entities to provide this priority
service, the new Decree- Law also defines which people may enjoy
this priority (there was no definition in the previous law). The
law provides definitions for "person with a disability or
incapacity", "old person" (aged 65 or over with
clear signs of an alteration or limitation physical or mental
functions), and "person accompanied by an infant" (a
person accompanied by a child up to the age of two years).
A further important provision of this Decree- Law is the
introduction of rule that makes it possible for any person who has
been refused priority service to call the police to ensure that it
is, in fact, provided. The police must also register the incident
and send the complaint to the appropriate authority.
Finally, in terms of penalties, the new law provides that anyone
that does not provide priority service when under an obligation to
do so, will be guilty of an administrative offence punishable with
a fine of between EUR 50.00 and EUR 500.00 in the case of an
individual, or EUR 100.00 and EUR 1000.00, in the case of a legal
This Decree-Law only comes into force on 27 December 2016.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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