How to bring a case to court

Portugal
Content provided by:
European Judicial Network
European Judicial Network (in civil and commercial matters)

1 Do I have to go to court or is there another alternative?

There are alternative means to resolve disputes in Portugal. National legislation allows the use of arbitration and mediation, and also provides for Justices of the Peace (Julgados de Paz) and support for excessive debt.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (Gabinete de Resolução Alternativa de Litígios, GRAL) is responsible for supporting the creation of such extra-judicial means of resolving disputes and putting them into practice.

Detailed information on how to use one of the means of alternative dispute resolution is available at: http://www.dgpj.mj.pt/sections/gral.

2 Is there any time limit to bring a court action?

When the limitation period refers to the right to bring a case, the general rules set out in Articles 332 and 327(2) of the Portuguese Civil Code (Código Civil) are applicable (to consult the comprehensive and updated text of the Portuguese Civil Code, see the useful links provided at the end of this document).

The Portuguese Civil Code sets out the following special rules in relation to limitation periods for:

  • the right to bring an avoidance action (Article 618)
  • actions to annul the sale of defective goods (Article 917)
  • actions to revoke donations (Article 976)
  • the right to terminate lease contracts (Article 1085)
  • actions to maintain and recover possession (Article 1282)
  • actions concerning breach of a promise of marriage (Article 1595)
  • actions to annul marriages due to a lack of witnesses (Article 1646)
  • actions contesting paternity (Articles 1842 and 1843)
  • actions to declare debarment from succession (Article 2036)
  • actions to reduce gifts exceeding the disposable portion of an estate (Article 2178)
  • actions to resolve provisions of wills (Article 2248)
  • actions to annul wills or provisions therein (Article 2308).

3 Should I go to a court in this Member State?

In relation to the international competence of Portuguese courts, Articles 59, 62, 63 and 94 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Código de Processo Civil) set out the following general rules (to consult the comprehensive and updated text of the Portuguese Code of Civil Procedure, see the useful links provided at the end of this document):

‘Article 59

International Competence

Without prejudice to the rules laid down in Community regulations and in other international instruments, Portuguese courts shall be competent internationally when any of the connecting factors mentioned in Articles 62 and 63 apply or when the parties have attributed competence to Portuguese courts pursuant to Article 94’

‘Article 62

Factors for the attribution of international competence

Portuguese courts shall be competent internationally:

a) when the action may be brought in a Portuguese court in accordance with the rules on Portuguese territorial jurisdiction established in Portuguese law;

b) when the fact which has caused the action, or any of the facts pertaining to it, occurred on Portuguese territory;

c) when the right invoked may only be upheld by means of the proposed action in Portuguese territory or there is appreciable difficulty for the plaintiff in taking the action abroad, because there is an important connection, personal or real, between the subject-matter of the dispute and the Portuguese legal system.’

‘Article 63

Exclusive competence of Portuguese courts

Portuguese courts shall have exclusive competence:

a) With regard to rights over immovable property and the lease of property located in Portuguese territory; however, with regard to tenancies on property concluded for temporary private use for a maximum period of six consecutive months, the courts of the Member State in which the respondent is resident shall also have jurisdiction, provided that the tenant is a natural person and that the landlord and the tenant are resident in the same Member State;

b) With regard to the validity of the incorporation or dissolution of companies or other legal persons with their registered offices in Portugal, as well as with regard to the validity of decisions taken by their bodies; to determine that registered office, the Portuguese court shall apply its rules of private international law;

c) With regard to the validity of entries in public records held in Portugal;

d) With regard to foreclosure on property located in Portuguese territory;

e) With regard to insolvency or reorganisation of persons resident in Portugal or legal persons or companies whose registered offices are located in Portuguese territory.’

‘Article 94

Private pacts and conferring jurisdiction

1 – The parties may agree on which court has jurisdiction to resolve a particular dispute or disputes which may arise from a particular legal relationship, provided that the disputed relationship has connections with more than one legal system.

2 – The agreed designation may involve the assignment to the Portuguese courts of exclusive jurisdiction or merely an alternative jurisdiction, where such exists, assuming that, in the event of doubt, it is exclusive.

3 – The choice of court shall only be valid when all the following requirements are met:

a) it relates to a dispute over available rights;

b) it is accepted by the designated court;

c) it is justified by a serious interest of both parties or one of them, provided that it does not cause serious inconvenience to the other;

d) it does not involve matters which are the exclusive competence of the Portuguese courts;

e) it is the result of an agreement which is written or confirmed in writing, and explicit mention is made of the competent jurisdiction.

4 – For the purposes of the previous paragraph, the agreement shall be considered to be written when it is set out in a document signed by the parties or it is the result of an exchange of letters, telexes, telegrams or other means of communication that constitute written proof, whether such documents directly contain the agreement, or they contain a clause referring to another document containing the agreement.’

4 If yes, which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given where I live and where the other party lives, or other aspects of my case?

For a detailed answer to this question, please consult the fact sheet on this page entitled ‘Jurisdiction’.

5 Which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given the nature of my case and the amount at stake?

For a detailed answer to this question, please consult the fact sheet on this page entitled ‘Jurisdiction’.

6 Can I bring a court action by myself or do I have to go via an intermediary, such as a lawyer?

Articles 40 and 58 of the Code of Civil Procedure, cited below, set out the cases in which it is compulsory to appoint counsel. Apart from such cases, as a rule, individuals can represent themselves in proceedings.

‘Article 40

Compulsory representation by counsel

1 – It shall be compulsory to be represented by counsel:

a) in matters which fall within the jurisdiction of courts that are subject to thresholds and in which an ordinary appeal is allowed;

b) in cases in which appeals are always allowed, regardless of the value;

c) in appeals and cases brought in the higher courts.

2 – Even where it is compulsory to be represented by counsel, trainee lawyers, solicitors (solicitadores) and the parties themselves may make applications in which matters of law are not raised.

3 – In cases where, although it is not compulsory to appoint a lawyer, the parties have not established a legal representative, the examination of witnesses shall be conducted by the judge, who shall also adjust procedure to suit the specific circumstances.’

‘Article 58

Compulsory legal representation

1 - The parties shall be represented by a lawyer in enforcement proceedings for a value higher than the limit applied to the court of first instance, and in such proceedings for a value higher than the limit applied to the Court of Appeal, or in proceedings for a value equivalent to or lower than that but higher than the limit applied to the court of first instance, when this involves any procedure that is heard under a declaratory process.

2 – In ancillary proceedings to verify claims, appointing a lawyer shall only be necessary when the value being claimed is higher than the limit applied to the court of first instance, and only to assess the claim.

3 - The parties shall be represented by a lawyer, trainee lawyer or solicitor in enforcement proceedings for a value higher than the limit applied to the court of first instance not covered in the previous provisions.’

7 To initiate the case, who exactly do I apply to: to the reception office or the office of the clerk of the court or any other administration?

The answer to this question is set out in Article 144 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as below:

‘Article 144

Submitting procedural documents to the court

1 – Procedural documents that must be submitted in writing by the parties shall be submitted to the court electronically, pursuant to the Ministerial Implementing Order provided for in Article 132(1), with the date the document is sent being valid for procedural purposes.

2 - The party submitting the documents as described above must submit the pleadings and the accompanying documents electronically and shall not be required to submit the respective originals.

3 – The documents referred to in the previous paragraph shall not be submitted electronically when their format or the size of the files to be submitted does not allow this, in accordance with the Ministerial Implementing Order provided for in Article 132(2).

4 – Documents submitted as described in paragraph 2 above shall have the evidential value of the originals, as defined in the provisions relating to certificates.

5 – The provision set out in paragraph 2 above shall not preclude the need to exhibit procedural documents in paper format and the originals of the documents which the parties have submitted as attachments electronically, whenever the court so requires, pursuant to procedural law.

6 – When duplicates or copies of any pleadings or other procedural documents submitted electronically are required, the court registry shall provide the respective copies, namely for the purposes of summoning or notifying the parties, except in cases when they can be delivered electronically, as set out in legislation and in the Ministerial Implementing Order provided for in Article 132(1).

7 - For cases that do not require a legal representative, and where the party has no intermediary, the procedural documents referred to in paragraph 1 may also be submitted to the court in one of the following ways:

a) delivery to the court office, with the date the document is delivered being valid for procedural purposes;

b) sent by registered delivery post, with the date the document is sent by registered delivery being valid for procedural purposes;

c) sent by fax, with the date the document is sent being valid for procedural purposes.

8 – If a party has a legal representative, and there is a reasonable impediment to the procedural documents being submitted in accordance with paragraph 1 above, the documents may be submitted in accordance with paragraph 7 above.’

8 In which language can I make my application? Can I do it orally or does it have to be in writing? Can I send my application by fax or by e-mail?

The language in which the application must be made is set out in Article 133 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as shown below:

‘Article 133

Language to be used in court documents

1 - Portuguese shall be used in all court documents.

2 - Where a foreign national who cannot speak Portuguese has to give evidence in the Portuguese courts, an interpreter shall be appointed for them, when necessary, in order to facilitate communication, under oath.

3 – The intervention of an interpreter as set out above shall be limited to that which is strictly required.’

The language in which documents can be submitted and the need for translation are set out in Article 134 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as shown below:

‘Article 134
Translation of documents written in a foreign language

1 - For documents written in a foreign language that require translation, the court, of its own motion or at the request of one of the parties, shall order that the person submitting them attach a translation.
2 – If reasonable doubts arise as to the suitability of the translation, the court shall order that the petitioner include a translation by a notary or authenticated by a diplomatic or consular official of the respective State; if it proves impossible to obtain such a translation or if the order is not carried out within the specified time frame, the court may determine that the document be translated by an expert appointed by the court.’

The format of procedural documents is set out in Article 131 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as shown below:

‘Article 131

Format of procedural documents

1 – Procedural documents must, in the simplest terms, be submitted in the format that best corresponds to the desired objective.

2 – Procedural documents may follow the templates approved by the competent entity, however, only forms concerning court office documents shall be considered to be compulsory.

3 –Procedural documents required to be in writing must be composed in a manner that leaves no doubt as to their authenticity and must be clearly expressed, while any abbreviations must have an unequivocal meaning.

4 – Dates and numbers may be written in figures, except when setting out the rights or obligations of the parties or of third parties; in corrections, however, numbers that have been crossed out or amended should always be written out fully in words.

5 – Information technology may be used to process any procedural documents or carry out any procedural actions, provided that this is done in compliance with personal data protection rules, this use being explicitly mentioned.’

The answers to questions 7 and 9 describe the ways in which documents may be submitted to the court. Depending on the specific case, these methods include the use of fax and email and, for professionals who are duly registered on the Citius platform, electronic data transmission through the IT system for court activities.

9 Are there special forms for bringing actions, or, if not, how must I present my case? Are there elements that have to be included in the file?

In addition to the forms set out in Community legislation, there are specific forms in Portugal for specific actions, which can be obtained on the Citius Portal at the following link: https://www.citius.mj.pt/portal/Artigos.aspx?CategoryId=24

There are specific forms to apply for enforcement actions and court orders in Portugal.

When filed by professionals, who must be registered for the purpose on the Citius platform, the following should preferably be filed electronically through the IT system for court activities:

  • procedural and other documents submitted to the court by lawyers, solicitors and enforcement agents, insolvency administrators and notaries;
  • proof of payment of court fees (that are part of court costs);
  • proof of or applications for legal aid.

Articles 552 and 572 of the Code of Civil Procedure, cited below, set out the information that plaintiffs must provide when filing a suit, and the documents that defendants must file if they wish to contest, respectively.

‘Article 552

Requirements for initial applications

1 – In the application to bring an action, the plaintiff must:

a) designate the court and section where the action is to be brought and identify the parties, indicating their names, domiciles or registered offices and, where possible, civil identification and tax numbers, professions and workplaces;

b) indicate the business address of their legal representative;

c) indicate the type of action;

d) outline the essential facts which have caused the action and the reasons in law which form the basis for the action;

e) formulate the application;

f) declare the amount of the claim;

g) designate the enforcement agent with responsibility for issuing the summons or the legal representative responsible for promoting it.

2 - At the end of the application, the plaintiff must submit the list of witnesses and request other forms of evidence; if the defendant contests, the plaintiff shall be permitted to change their original request for evidence, and may do so in their response, where applicable, or within 10 days of their being notified that the defendant is contesting the action.

3 - The plaintiff must attach to the initial application documentary evidence of prior payment of the court fee due or of the granting of legal aid exempting them from prior payment of the aforementioned fee.

4 – When the initial application is submitted electronically, proof of the prior payment of the court fee due or of the granting of legal aid shall be provided in accordance with the Ministerial Implementing Order referred to in Article 132(1).

5 – If a summons pursuant to Article 561 has been requested and if, on the date the application is submitted to the court, less than five days remain before the end of the expiry period, or in the event of any other urgent reason, the plaintiff must submit a document proving that a request for legal aid has been filed but that said legal aid has not yet been granted.

6 – In the situation described in the previous paragraph, the plaintiff shall pay the court fees within 10 days of being notified of a definitive decision rejecting the application for legal aid, failing which the initial application submitted shall be withdrawn, unless the notification rejecting the application for legal aid was made only after the defendant was summoned.

7 – For the purposes of paragraph 1(g), the plaintiff shall designate an enforcement agent enrolled or registered in the district or in an adjoining district or, alternatively, in another district belonging to the same area of jurisdiction as the respective appeal court, without prejudice to the provisions set out in Article 231(9).

8 – The designation of the enforcement agent shall be without effect if the said agent states that he or she does not accept said appointment, pursuant to terms to be defined by means of a Ministerial Implementing Order issued by the member of the Government responsible for justice.’

‘Article 572

Elements to contest a case

When contesting a case the defendant must:

a) identify the case;

b) present the factual and legal grounds for contesting the plaintiff’s application;

c) present the essential facts on which the objections raised are based, setting out the objections separately, otherwise the respective facts may not be included in the statement of facts due to the absence of specific objections; and

d) Submit a list of witnesses and request other forms of evidence; when the defendant submits a counterclaim and the plaintiff responds, the defendant shall be permitted to amend their original request for evidence within 10 days of being notified of the response.’

10 Will I have to pay court charges? If so, when? Will I have to pay a lawyer right from the introduction of my application?

Yes, as a rule it is necessary to pay court fees, calculated according to the amount in question. This is without prejudice to Community legislation, which sets out exemptions from court fees in some cases.

The Code of Civil Procedure sets out the rules defining the notion of costs and the methods to prove they have been paid in the respective case.

The most relevant rules concerning costs are essentially set out in Articles 145, 529, 530, 532 and 533 of the Code of Civil Procedure, cited below:

‘Article 145

Proof of prior payment of court fees

1 – When the filing of a procedural document requires the payment of a court fee, pursuant to the terms set out in the Litigation Costs Regulation, proof of prior payment of the court fee due or of eligibility for legal aid, in lieu of the fee, must be attached, unless, in the latter case, the said document has already been included in the case file.

2 – Attaching proof of prior payment of court fees amounting to a sum that is less than the fees due shall, under the Litigation Costs Regulation, be deemed equivalent to not attaching any proof at all and the document shall be returned to the submitter.

3 – Without prejudice to the provisions relating to the initial application, failure to attach the document mentioned in paragraph 1 shall not result in the procedural document being rejected and the party must attach the document within 10 days of the procedural document being filed, failing which the penalties set out in Articles 570 and 642 shall apply.

4 – When the procedural document is provided electronically, the prior payment of the court fees or the approval of legal aid shall be proven in accordance with the terms set out in the Ministerial Implementing Order referred to in Article 132(1).

5 – Whenever a case does not require the appointment of a legal representative and the party has directly filed the document, the said party shall be notified to attach proof of payment or of the approval of legal aid, failing which they shall be subject to legal penalties.

6 – In the situation described in paragraph 4, the summons shall only be issued after proof has been provided of the prior payment of court fees in accordance with the Ministerial Implementing Order referred to in Article 132(1), or after the respective documentary proof has been included in the case file.’

‘Article 529

Litigation costs

1 – Litigation costs shall include court fees, charges and the costs of the party.

2 - Court fees shall correspond to the amounts due in relation to the case for each party and shall be set according to the value and complexity of the case, under the Litigation Costs Regulation.

3 – Charges shall consist of the expenses incurred as a result of conducting the proceedings, whether requested by the parties or ordered by the trial judge.

4 - Costs shall consist of the amount each party has incurred on the case and for which it is entitled to compensation on the grounds that the court found against the other party, in accordance with the Litigation Costs Regulation.’

‘Article 530

Court fees

1 - Court fees shall be paid only by the party which brings the action, whether as plaintiff or defendant, creditor or debtor, claimant or respondent, appellant or defendant, in accordance with the Litigation Costs Regulation.

2 - In the case of a counterclaim or main intervention, an additional court fee shall be due only when the counterclaimant makes an application distinct from that of the plaintiff.

3 - An application shall not be considered distinct when the party intends to achieve, for their own benefit, the same legal effect as the plaintiff proposes to obtain, or when the party intends to obtain compensation only.

4 - If different parties join in one application, the party that appears as the first party on the original petition, counterclaim or application must pay the entire court fee, without prejudice to the right of recourse against the joint parties.

5 - If different parties join in more than one application, each plaintiff, counterclaimant, creditor or claimant shall be responsible for paying the respective court fee, the value being that stipulated in the Litigation Costs Regulation.

6 - For actions brought by commercial companies which have in the previous year brought 200 or more actions, proceedings or enforcements in any court, the court fees shall be set in accordance with the Litigation Costs Regulation.

7 - For the purposes of ordering payment of court fees, actions and precautionary procedures shall be considered particularly complex when they:

a) contain prolix pleadings or claims;

b) relate to highly specialised legal issues or highly specific technical matters or require a combined analysis of legal issues from very different contexts; or

c) involve hearing a large number of witnesses, the analysis of complex evidence or various lengthy steps to produce proof.’

‘Article 532

Charges

1 - Except as provided for in the regulations governing access to the law, each party shall pay the charges which it has incurred and which are caused during the proceedings.

2 - Charges shall be the responsibility of the party which requested the action or, where it has been held ex officio, the party that takes advantage of it.

3 – When all the parties have the same interest in the action or the reason for the expenditure, benefit equally from the action or expenditure or when it is not possible to determine who is the interested party, the charges shall be divided equally among the parties.

4 - Charges for actions that are clearly unnecessary and of a dilatory nature shall be exclusively borne by the party bringing the action, irrespective of whether or not they are ordered to pay costs.

5 – The application of the regulation described in the previous paragraph shall always be subject to a ruling by the trial judge.’

‘Article 533

Costs of the parties

1 – Without prejudice to the provisions set out in paragraph 4, the costs of the successful party shall be borne by the unsuccessful party, on a sliding scale based on the extent of the failure of their application, pursuant to the terms set out in the Litigation Costs Regulation.

2 – The following expenses shall constitute the costs for each party, namely:

a) court fees paid;

b) the charges actually incurred by the party;

c) the remuneration paid to the enforcement agent and the expenses incurred by the said agent;

d) the legal representative's fees and expenses incurred by the said legal representative.

3 – The sums mentioned in the previous paragraph shall be set out in a detailed invoice, which shall also contain all the essential information relating to the case and the parties.

4 - If a plaintiff could have recourse to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, but opts for judicial proceedings, they must bear their own costs regardless of the outcome of the action, unless the other party has made it impossible to use this form of alternative dispute resolution.

5 – The alternative dispute resolution mechanisms mentioned in the previous paragraph shall be those set out in a Ministerial Implementing Order issued by the member of the Government responsible for justice.’

COURT FEES

The above rules of the Code of Civil Procedure are set out in practical terms defining the amounts of court fees in the Litigation Costs Regulation approved by Decree-Law No 34/2008 of 26 February 2008.

The most recent version of the Litigation Costs Regulation can be consulted at: http://www.pgdlisboa.pt/leis/lei_mostra_articulado.php?nid=967&tabela=leis&so_miolo=&

The Ministry of Justice has developed a court fee simulator, which is available at: http://justica.gov.pt/Servicos/Simulador-Taxas-de-justica

Court fees are paid in accordance with Article 14 of the Litigation Costs Regulation, in one or two instalments.

Cases in which it is compulsory to appoint a legal representative

The first (or only) instalment of court fees must be paid by the time the following court documents are filed, processed electronically, and the proof must be attached to the respective document (proof being provided in accordance with Ministerial Implementing Order No 280/2013 of 26 August 2013, as referred to in Article 132 of the Code of Civil Procedure):

  • action by the plaintiff (application);
  • first intervention by the defendant (defence);
  • first intervention by the appellant (claims) or respondent (counterclaims);
  • first intervention by the claimant in precautionary proceedings (initial application) or by the respondent (objections);
  • first intervention by the creditor (enforcement application) or the debtor (application objecting to the enforcement/stays of enforcement or applications for objections or objections to the attachment);
  • and in the other situations described in Table II, namely the claimant in the event of the procedural issues set out in the Code of Civil Procedure and in the event of interlocutory or extraordinary proceedings (proceedings that are outside the normal scope of the action, which are to be charged in accordance with the principles governing the assignment of costs – Article 7(8) of the Litigation Costs Regulation).

If a second instalment is due, it is to be paid within 10 days from the notification of a final hearing and the party concerned must submit proof of the respective payment within the same time period (Article 14(2) of the Litigation Costs Regulation).

Cases in which it is not compulsory to appoint a legal representative

If the document is filed directly by the party, the payment of the court fee for instigating proceedings is only due after notification, which specifies a period of 10 days to make the payment and the applicable penalties if the payment is not made.

Exemption from paying the second instalment of court fees

Article 14-A of the Litigation Costs Regulation establishes exemptions from paying the second instalment of court fees in the following civil or commercial proceedings:

  • proceedings that do not require summons of the defendant, objections or trial hearings;
  • proceedings that end before objections are submitted or in which, owing to the absence of objections, a verdict is issued, even when preceded by claims;
  • proceedings that end before the date is set for a final hearing;
  • proceedings involving minors;
  • non-contentious proceedings in family law matters;
  • proceedings derived from work accidents or occupational illnesses that end during litigation due to a judgment being handed down immediately after a medical examination.

Exemption from prior payment of court fees

This is merely a postponement of the time when the party is obliged to pay the court fee (whether it is the first or the second instalment).

Payment must be made within a period of 10 days from the notification of the decision in the main case. With the notification of the decision in the main case, the parties are notified that they must pay within a period of 10 days and attach the respective proof to the court file.

The following civil or commercial cases are exempt from the prior payment of court fees (Article 15 of the Litigation Costs Regulation):

  • The claimant and the respondent, in claims for civil damages brought in criminal proceedings, when the respective value is equal to or higher than 20 UC (units of account) (in 2019 the value of one UC is 102 Euros);
  • The parties in proceedings concerning the status of a person;
  • The parties in proceedings concerning jurisdiction of minors.

CHARGES

Charges are all the expenses incurred as a result of the proceedings, whether requested by the parties or ordered by the trial judge.

Charges are paid by the claimant or interested party, immediately or within a period of 10 days of receiving notification of the letter ordering an action, requiring the sending of or compliance with a letter rogatory or setting the date for a trial hearing (Article 20(1) of the Litigation Costs Regulation and Article 532(1) and (2) of the Code of Civil Procedure). Each party is liable to pay the charges it has incurred or from which it has benefited, even if the charges were ordered by the court of its own motion.

Charges for which an exempt party (e.g. beneficiaries of legal aid) is liable are advanced by the Institute for Financial Management and Infrastructure in the Justice System (Instituto de Gestão Financeira e Equipamentos da Justiça, I.P. (IGFEJ, I.P.))

Types of Charges (Article 16 of the Litigation Costs Regulation):

  • Refunds to the IGFEJ, I.P. for:
    • advances for expenses;
    • legal aid costs, including the payment of fees;
  • refunds of expenses advanced by the Directorate-General for Taxation;
  • actions by security forces;
  • payments to produce or deliver documents, provide services or other similar payments, when ordered by the judge, by an application or of his or her own motion (except for certificates obtained by the court of its own motion);
  • compensation for witnesses;
  • payment for certificates required by procedural legislation, when the person liable benefits from legal aid – when a beneficiary of legal aid requests a certificate to be added to a case, the respective cost must be mentioned, which is entered into the charges for the final determination of costs;
  • payment for the use of public stores;
  • payments for interventions by third parties:
    • experts;
    • translators and interpreters;
    • technical consultants;
    • liquidators, administrators and entities charged with extrajudicial sales;
  • transport expenditure and allowances for actions that are part of proceedings.

The court registry calculates expected expenditure related to a given matter (based on Table IV attached to the Litigation Costs Regulation) and issues invoices for the prior payment of charges, up to five days before the action is to take place, which are sent to the party or parties liable to pay.

If the charges are paid in advance, payment for an action is made as soon as the action takes place. The amounts charged in this manner are immediately distributed to the entities entitled to the said amounts.

COSTS OF THE PARTIES

Costs consist of the amount each party spent on the case and for which it is entitled to compensation on the grounds that the court found against the other party, pursuant to the Litigation Costs Regulation.

They are determined as part of the court's ruling on costs, except:

  • in the case of the division of costs as set out in Article 536 of the Code of Civil Procedure
  • in the case of litigation in bad faith as set out in Article 542(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Article 26(1) of the Litigation Costs Regulation).

The successful party is entitled to receive costs from the unsuccessful party, on a sliding scale based on the extent of the failure of their application (Article 533(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure).

The costs of the parties are not included in the account of court costs. They are paid directly and extra-judicially by the unsuccessful party to the successful party, except in cases set out in Article 540 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Parties entitled to costs must send the court and the unsuccessful party a detailed and descriptive invoice, pursuant to the terms and the time frames set out in Article 25 of the Litigation Costs Regulation, with the following information:

  • identification of the party;
  • identification of the case;
  • identification of the legal representative;
  • identification of the enforcement agent, if applicable;
  • the costs paid by the party with regard to court fees;
  • charges effectively paid and expenses incurred by the enforcement agent;
  • indication of the sums paid for legal counsel or enforcement agent fees;
  • indication of the amount to be received.

The successful party can request that the costs to which it is entitled be settled using any remaining balance to be returned to the unsuccessful party and to this end it is sufficient to expressly request this in the invoice.

When the period of 10 days in which to challenge the invoice or voluntarily pay party costs concludes, the application is deemed to have been tacitly approved – Article 29(3) of Ministerial Implementing Order No 419-A/2009.

11 Can I claim legal aid?

Yes, you can, provided you satisfy the conditions for the granting of legal aid.

Law No 34/2004 of 29 July 2004 governs the possibility of applying for legal aid, sets out the requirements for such applications and establishes the relevant arrangements. The updated text of this law can be consulted at: http://www.pgdlisboa.pt/leis/lei_mostra_articulado.php?nid=80&tabela=leis

The application for legal aid must be submitted to the Social Security services (Segurança Social).

The form to submit an application for legal aid, the applicable legislation and a practical guide can be consulted at:

http://www.seg-social.pt/protecao-juridica.

12 From which moment is my action officially considered to have been brought? Will the authorities give me some feedback on whether or not my case has been properly presented?

The point at which an action is considered to have been brought is set out in Article 259 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as below:

‘Article 259

Point at which an action is considered to have been brought

1 – The case shall commence by bringing an action and this shall be considered to have been submitted, brought or be pending as soon as the initial application is received by the court registry, without prejudice to the provisions set out in Article 144.

2 - However, bringing an action shall not produce effects in relation to the defendant until the date of a summons, except where the law provides otherwise.’

The point at which procedural documents are submitted to the court is set out in Article 144 of the Code of Civil Procedure:

‘Article 144

Submitting procedural documents to the court

1 – Procedural documents that must be submitted in writing by the parties shall be submitted to the court electronically, pursuant to the Ministerial Implementing Order provided for in Article 132(1), with the date the document is sent being valid for procedural purposes.

2 - The party submitting the documents as described above must submit the pleadings and the accompanying documents electronically and shall not be required to submit the respective originals.

3 - The documents referred to in the previous paragraph shall not be submitted electronically when their format or the size of the files to be submitted does not allow this, in accordance with the Ministerial Implementing Order provided for in Article 132(1).

4 - Documents submitted as described in paragraph 2 above shall have the evidential value of the originals, as defined in the provisions relating to certificates.

5 - The provision set out in paragraph 2 above shall not preclude the need to exhibit procedural documents in paper format and the originals of the documents which the parties have submitted as attachments electronically, whenever the court so requires, pursuant to procedural law.

6 - When duplicates or copies of any pleadings or other procedural documents submitted electronically are required, the court registry shall provide the respective copies, namely for the purposes of summoning or notifying the parties, except in cases when they can be delivered electronically, as set out in legislation and in the Ministerial Implementing Order provided for in Article 132(1).

7 - For cases that do not require a legal representative, and where the party has no intermediary, the procedural documents referred to in paragraph 1 may also be submitted to the court in one of the following ways:

a) delivery to the court office, with the date the document is delivered being valid for procedural purposes;

b) sent by registered delivery post, with the date the document is sent by registered delivery being valid for procedural purposes;

c) sent by fax, with the date the document is sent being valid for procedural purposes.

8 - If a party has a legal representative, and there is a reasonable impediment to the procedural documents being submitted in accordance with paragraph 1 above, the documents may be submitted in accordance with paragraph 7 above.’

Article 226(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure states that: ‘If 30 days have elapsed without a summons having been issued, the plaintiff shall be informed of the steps taken in this regard and the reasons why the act has not occurred.’

Article 575(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure states that: ‘Plaintiffs shall be notified when a defence is filed.’

13 Will I have detailed information about the timing of subsequent events (such as the time allowed for me to enter an appearance)?

The parties and their legal representatives can obtain information regarding the proceedings and schedules in the following manner:

  • on their own initiative, consulting the case proceedings pursuant to Article 163 of the Code of Civil Procedure;
  • during the preliminary hearing, when the judge schedules the acts to be carried out during the final hearing, the number of sessions and their probable duration and schedules the respective dates after consulting with the lawyers, pursuant to Article 591 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

In this regard, Article 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure sets out that, in order to avoid scheduling multiple actions on the same date for which legal representatives must be present, the judge must schedule a date and time for such actions only after prior consultation with the said representatives.

Useful links:

The up-to-date version of the Code of Civil Procedure approved by Law No 41/2013 of 26 June 2013 can be viewed at:

https://dre.pt/web/guest/legislacao-consolidada/-/lc/34580575/view?w=2018-02-26

The Civil Code approved by Decree-Law No 47344/66 of 25 November 1966 in its most recent version can be viewed at:

http://www.pgdlisboa.pt/leis/lei_mostra_articulado.php?nid=775&tabela=leis&so_miolo=&


Warning

The Contact Point and the courts are not bound by the information contained in this factsheet. The legal texts in force and subsequent amendments thereto must also be consulted.

Last update: 04/12/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

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