I have read your article about video link witness duty, the ending of which left me feeling a bit alarmed for you (Algarve Resident, November 4).
Over the many, many, many years I have resided in this country, I have also been involved in witness duty at court. This is an activity one should never get into if it can possibly be avoided – it destroys friendships amongst other things! You also get to the point you lose the will to live – but I digress.
If you find yourself, nevertheless, obliged to appear as a witness, it does carry stiff penalties if you do not appear at the appointed time and place. The fact that you are left “cooling your heels” for hours and hours is of no consequence.
You will only receive one written summons – as things are normally prolonged and proceedings delayed for another hearing (usually lawyers who can’t attend for one reason or another, to gain time – and more money from clients).
You really should return to the court house and find out when the next hearing will be. It could be anything up to a year away, but God help you if you don’t appear without sufficiently good reason (being deceased is the best one, being in hospital another) – excuse to be in writing, preferably written by a doctor or similar learned person.
You never know – by some amazing chance the proceedings could have been dropped. Whatever the case – I strongly advise you to investigate before you relax.
Siân Hughes-Roberts, Ferragudo
Congratulations to June Lover for her excellent piece last week on her experience of Portuguese bureaucracy, in this case, jury service. But the person who should read it is not me, but the Prime Minister, for it epitomises the problems and attitudes in Portugal and we will not succeed with debt or any future until that attitude is changed.
D. Taylor-Smith, by email