A Call From The BBC
A couple of days ago I had a surprise telephone call from the BBC. Apparently, I had been recommended to them as an English speaking legal expert. Good to hear!! One of the BBC morning programmes is making an item that aims to advise people on what to expect when they report a crime while on holiday. I won’t name the programme though and spoil their broadcast!
They have found that their viewers seem to be unaware of what to expect from court proceedings in Spain, so they want to give out some helpful advice “with the help of experts like ourselves”.
The lady who telephoned sent an email asking the following questions:-
· Are victims obliged to appear in court if they’re summoned to a Spanish Court?
· Are expenses/ accommodation/travel paid for when summoned?
· What are the consequences of not turning up to court?
· What are the long-term effects of crime if holidaymakers decide not to report crimes due to the fear of having to pay out more money to attend court proceedings?
· Who can Brits turn to for advice when they’re summoned to court to court in another country?
They said it would be great to get an expert voice on the topic so they would appreciate any help or guidance.
Of course, I was delighted to help someone from the BBC and explained that this is what we do on a day to day basis for our clients, advice on these sorts of issues, as we deal with criminal work as well as other types of legal cases. I think it was an excellent idea for a programme and whether someone finds themselves in trouble or they are merely a witness on holiday, they do need the advice and often to engage a Spanish solicitor here to defend/assist them.
How did I answer her questions?
Are victims obliged to appear in court if they’re summoned to a Spanish court?
Yes, they are, however it is possible to demonstrate usually to a Judge if there is a good reason why they cannot attend… elderly and frail, work commitments, holiday booked overseas) but the proof will usually be required by way of a doctor´s letter, company letter, proof of flights etc.
Are expenses/ accommodation/ travel paid for when summoned?
No, they are not, unfortunately. I am unsure but would expect that if something happened on a holiday and there was a Court hearing as a result of this, possibly a claim could be made on travel insurance purchased, depending on the wording of their terms and conditions. I would advise people to look at this when considering a policy)
What are the consequences of not turning up to court?
If you are called by the Courts you have the obligation to attend. You should be conscious that if you have given your details as a witness it possibly could be that you are called back to Spain. Otherwise, you can be fined and even prosecuted for obstruction of Justice. So it has to be taken seriously and requests not ignored.
It is also quite difficult to contact Courts directly, either in writing or telephone, they tend to like to receive notification through the proper channels of a Legal Adviser. Our company can help with this and have done so. Normally Judges are understanding and if there are good reasons people are exonerated often, but it depends on the case, and people should be aware that it will not be just because they do not want to come back.
What are the long-term effects of crime if holidaymakers decide not to report crimes due to the fear of having to pay out more money to attend court proceedings?
This is a good question. It has occurred to me too. Crimes should be reported, and people really have a moral duty to do so, as it helps the police to catch criminals and what perhaps is a bag snatch for one person next time could result in a murder. So let us hope that people continue to report a crime, but make themselves aware there is a possibility of having to come back to Court as a witness in the future. Also, crime reports are often needed for insurance purposes to recover the costs of property stolen, so often it is essential.
Who can Brits turn to for advice when they’re summoned to court in another country?
We are aware that very often people try the British Consulate and they are very pleasant and helpful but recently for a lady who had sent several letters to a Court to explain a non-attendance and had no answer, they were unable to assist and directed them to find a lawyer. Brits can always turn to an English speaking law firm such as ourselves for advice in these matters.
It really was an honour to be contacted by the BBC for this!