Royal Decree-Law 16/2020, of April 28, has been published with the above heading in the B.O.E. of April 29, 2020, and will enter into force the day after its publication, that is, on April 30.

The aim of this law is the gradual reactivation of the operational running of the courts and tribunals.

Amongst these measures are those aimed at guaranteeing the health of government officials and legal practitioners, transformation of digital technology, promote the recovery of judicial activity and within it, reactivate and streamline judicial procedures and confront the foreseeable increase in bankruptcy proceedings.

In very broad outline, we will refer in this article to the main measures contained in Chapters I and III.

A.- Organizational and technological measures

During the state of alert and for three months after its conclusion:

– The convening of procedural acts will take place through teleconference, both in the courts and tribunals and in the public prosecutor's office.

However, the physical presence of the accused in serious crimes will be necessary.

– The judicial bodies shall prescribe the procedures for access by the public to oral proceedings.

– Medical-forensic reports may be made based solely on medical documentation.

– Attention to the public in the judicial or public prosecutor's offices will be carried out via email or telephone.

– The regionally appointed judges may be preferentially assigned on matters related to the pandemic.

– Transformation of judicial bodies that are pending entry to operation into judicial bodies that know exclusively procedures associated with COVID-19.

– Assignment of morning and afternoon working days for the lawyers of the Administration of Justice and the rest of the staff at the service of the Administration of Justice.

– Substitution and reinforcement with lawyers of the Administration of Justice on training courses.

B.- Urgent procedural measures

– August 11 to 31 have been declared business days for all legal proceedings, except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

– The procedural terms and deadlines suspended by Royal Decree 463/2020 will be re-computed from its inception. Therefore, the first business day will be the next business day after the one on which the suspension of the corresponding procedure ceases to have effect.

– The deadlines to appeal the judgments and resolutions that put an end to the procedure that are notified during the suspension of the deadlines provided for in Royal Decree 463/2020, as well as those that are notified within twenty business days following the lifting of the suspension of the suspended procedural terms, will be extended in a period equal to that provided to appeal under its regulatory law.

– A special summary procedure in family matters is established during the term of the state of alert and for up to three months after its termination.

– The processing of a legal challenge to the temporary employment regulation files (ERTEs) referred to in article 23 of Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 is regulated, making it simpler and faster.

– Preferential processing of certain procedures, from the period that elapses from the lifting of the suspension of the procedural deadlines and until December 31, 2020. Such as: those that have to do with the protection of minors; cases in which a financial institution or lessor does not accept the moratorium on mortgages or rental agreements; the appeals against the administrations for the denial of aid to alleviate the economic effects of the Covid-19; labour issues related to layoffs or termination of employment contracts and those arising from the recovery of working hours not worked during the paid leave established during the crisis.

In addition, another series of measures have been adopted in the Additional Provisions, among which the following should be highlighted:

– The extension of deadlines in the area of Civil Registry.

– Enable and improve the use of digital signature and identification systems in the Administration of Justice.

– Establishment of procedural management systems that allow teleworking.

Finally, we can indicate that the first transitional Provision provides for the application of this Royal Decree-law to all procedural actions that are carried out after its entry into force, regardless of the start date of the procedure in which they occur.

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.