Law of Spain
Spanish lawis the term used to describe the legislation which is in force in the Kingdom of Spain, which is understood to mean Spanish territory, its waters, consulates and embassies, and boats flying the Spanish flag in international waters. It is also applicable to the Spanish armed forces, wherever they may be found. Spanish law stems from the Spanish people through democratically elected institutions. Equally, part of the legislation comes from the supranational institutions of the European Union, which also enjoy democratic legitimacy.
Spanish law follows the continental system, which means it is supported principally by the law in the broad sense (laws and regulations) and to a lesser extent by judicial decisions and customs. Likewise, it is a complex law, in which various
autonomous communitylegislation coexists with the national.
The supreme Spanish law is the
Spanish Constitutionof 1978, which regulates the functioning of public bodies and the fundamental rights of the Spanish people, as well as the organisation and competencies of the different autonomous communities. The Constitution, as well as being directly applicable by the judiciary, enjoys a material supremacy that determines the rest of the laws in Spain.
All laws in Spain must be declared compatible with the Constitution (all laws that contravene the Constitution are invalid). However, it is clear that it a public body is needed to regulate the fulfilment of this rule. In Spain's case, a Constitutional Court exists, which follows the Kelsenian (or Austrian) model.
Following this doctrine, the constitutional has two basic functions:
* Ensuring all law is compatible with the Constitution (
* Declaring the nullity of laws which contravene the Constitution (
In a case where an ordinary court questions a law, only the right of declaration is available, and it must go to the Constitutional Court with the question of constitutionality so that it can be declared, thus it is the only body which possesses the power to reject laws.
eparation of Powers
The division of powers, a fundamental idea in liberal thinking, is the core of the political system. At its heart, national sovereignty permits the election, by
universal suffrage(men and woman older than 18), of representatives of the sovereign people in the Cortes Generales. The Cortes Generales exercise legislative powerthrough two chambers, the Congress of Deputies and the Senate, choose the Prime Minister and control the actions of the executive power, which must obey the law.
The judicial powers fall into the hands of the
judgesand courts, an office which the public has access to, and in a jury, which is formed by nationals chosed by lottery in every case. The Constitutional Court controls the laws and the actions of the public administration must fit into the Magna Carta.
ources of law
The sources of law in Spain are:
*General principles of law.
Jurisprudenceis a secondary source.
Organisation of Spanish public law
#Constitutional law. This is the collection of laws and judicial institutions related to the organisation of the constitutional bodies and the exercise of the citizen's basic rights and freedoms.
#Administrative law. This regulates the organisation and functioning of the powers and bodies of the state and its relations with individuals.
#Criminal law. This regulates the so-called punitive (disciplinary) actions.
#Process law. This is integrated by the collection of laws that regulate judging procedures.
#Financial and tax law. This is a collection of laws that organise or study the resources that constitute the finances of the State and the other public bodies. They regulate the procedures to obtain deposits and to regulate expenses and payments.
#International public law. This is integrated by the laws that regulate the judicial relations between each state and the other members of the international community.
Organisation of Spanish private law
#Civil law. This is integrated by the collection of laws that regulate the person, the family, personal assets, contractual relations and the extra contractual civil responsibility . Within this we find the common and local law.
#Commercial law. This is the collection of laws that regulate law relating to business, within the world of business.
#Labour or social law. This regulates the relationships between employees and employers. Complains about social security fall under public law.
#International private law. This regulates the relationships between physical and judicial persons of different nationalities.
Public and private law
In Spain, within public law is included the regulation of the highest state institutions, constitutional law, which regulates the organisation, competencies and functioning of the constitutional bodies (the
State Council, the Account Court, the Constitutional Court, the General Council of the Judicial Power of Spain, etc.), constitutionally recognised rights and the constitutional mechanisms to do with the the interference by the public bodies with individual freedoms, rights and guarantees.
Also included within the realm of public law are criminal law, process law, financial and tax law and certain parts of labour law (infractions and sanctions of the public order, for example).
Hierarchy of laws
Article 1.2 of the
Spanish Civil Codeestablishes that laws which contradict others of a higher rank will be invalid. This supposes that, necessarily, a hierarchy exists which allows inferior and superior laws to be distinguished. However, the relationship between laws is not limited to a question of hierarchy, but also relationships of competency exist between some laws and others.
With effect to this, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 is the supreme law, which regulates all the complex relationships between the different laws and their place in the hierarchy.
The hierarchy of Spanish laws is thus:
#The law in its strict sense:
Organic Law(which requires an absolute majorityfrom the Cortes Generales), ordinary lawand regulatory laws (amongst which are found the Royal Decree of Lawand the Legislative Royal Decree).
#Laws stemming from the executive, with its own hierarchy based on the function of the body that made them (
Royal Decree, Decree, Ministerial Order, etc.).
Besides this, the Spanish Constitution establishes the competency of the Autonomous Communities with regard to the regulation of certain areas, and their ability to create legal laws via their own Parliaments. In a procedure between the autonomous parliament and the national parliament the
Statute of Autonomyexists, which is the fundamental law for the Autonomous Communities. After this, the hierarchy of laws will be the law dictated by the autonomous parliament with regard to its regulatory competencies, dictated by the autonomous executive.
Local authorities do not have legislative abilities even if they possess regulatory authority.
The relationship between autonomous and national laws depends the competencies established in the Constitution and in the respective Statute of Autonomy. The Constitutional Court is the body with the power to decide if a law is constitutional or not as well as the power to resolve conflicts regarding competencies between the State, the Autonomous Community and the Local Authorities.
Relationship between EC and Spanish law
As well as these three levels, reference must be made to EC law, which is an autonomous legal system applicable in Spain and whose laws are sovereign over national laws with virtue to the hierarchy of sources, which places international treaties at a higher level than the law. Regarding the Constitution there is a great debate between Constitutionalists and Communitarians as to which is supreme. For the former the Constitution is supreme, whereas for the latter the Treaties are supreme. In practice, the only time in which the Constitution and Treaties conflicted, the Constitution was modified to be in line with the Treaties.
On its part, EC law is divided into original and derived law, the original having its origins in the Treaties ratified by Spain, and the derived emanating from the EC institutions.
All laws stemming from EC institutions are directly applicable in Spain in virtue of the
Treaty of the European Union, ratified by Spain and thus part of the internal Spanish law. Given that the treaties have a higher hierarchical position compared to laws, in the case of conflict the Treaties will be given primacy.
Within EC law it is necessary to distinguish between
directivesand regulations. Directives need the Member Stateto apply them by passing laws whereas regulations are directly applicable.
Fundamental laws in the Spanish legal system
The hierarchy of laws in Spain is as follows:
*The Spanish Constitution of 1978.
*The distinct Statutes of Autonomy of the Autonomous Communities.
*The Treaty of the European Union.
*The Spanish Criminal Code.
*The Spanish Civil Code.
*The Spanish Commercial Code.
Regarding procedural law, the main regulations are the following:
*Civil Procedure Rules 1/2000 for civil and business procedures.
*Criminal Procedure Rules 1872 for criminal procedures.
*Labour Procedure Rules.
*Regulatory Law of the Contentious Administrative Jurisdiction, for procedures against the Public Administrations.
Interpretation of laws in Spain
The Spanish Civil Code regulates the interpretation of laws in Spain, and establishes the following:
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Copyright law of Spain — Spanish copyright law governs copyright (Spanish: derechos de autor), that is the rights of authors of literary, artistic or scientific works, in Spain. It was first instituted by the Law of 10 January 1879, and, in its origins, was… … Wikipedia
Spain — • This name properly signifies the whole peninsula which forms the south western extremity of Europe. Since the political separation of Portugal, however, the name has gradually come to be restricted to the largest of the four political divisions … Catholic encyclopedia
Law of Europe — The law of Europe is diverse and changing fast today. Europe saw the birth of both the Roman Empire and the British Empire, which form the basis of the two dominant forms of legal system of private law, civil and common law.HistoryThe law of… … Wikipedia
Law degree — A Law degree is the degree conferred on someone who successfully completes studies in law. Different degrees are conferred on each country to allow graduates to practice law.* B.A. in Law or Bachelor of Laws in the United Kingdom. * B.L.… … Wikipedia
SPAIN — (in Hebrew at first אספמיא then ספרד), country in S.W. Europe. The use of the word Spain to denote Sepharad has caused some confusion in research. Spain came into being long after the Jews had been expelled from the Crowns of Castile and Aragon,… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Law — /law/, n. 1. Andrew Bonar /bon euhr/, 1858 1923, English statesman, born in Canada: prime minister 1922 23. 2. John, 1671 1729, Scottish financier. 3. William, 1686 1761, English clergyman and devotional writer. * * * I Discipline and profession… … Universalium
Spain–United States relations — Spain USA relations refers to interstate relations between the Kingdom of Spain and the United States of America. Its groundwork was laid by the colonization of parts of the Americas by Spain. The first settlement in Florida was Spanish, followed … Wikipedia
Law enforcement in the United Kingdom — Crime in the UK · Terrorism in the UK Topics … Wikipedia
Law enforcement in Spain — is carried out by numerous organisations, not all of which operate in the same areas. National *Guardia Civil *Policía Nacional Regional *Ertzaintza in the Basque Country *Mossos d Esquadra in Catalonia *Policía Foral (Foruzaingoa) in Navarre… … Wikipedia
Law enforcement in Malta — is the responsibility of The Police Force of Malta, a 1,732 strong police force with 106 other civilian employees, whose mission is defined by the Penal Code of Malta and Maltese Law on the Police Force. Founded on July 12, 1814, by Sir Thomas … Wikipedia