Portugal “not the slowest slowcoach when it comes to Justice”

Country ranks 5th in EU for slowest court procedures

Portugal is the 5th EU Member State with “the longest duration of court proceedings” (in both lower and higher courts), but it is the slowest EU country when it comes to decisions by consumer protection authorities

The data, released over the Thursday Bank Holiday, may have taken many people by surprise: nationally, citizens labour under the misconception that there can be no other country as frustratingly slow as this one. But there truly are:  Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Malta and Greece all deliver even slower court decisions – albeit their consumer protection authorities are more on the ball than ours.

The EU Justice Scoreboard 2023 has minutely gone through all the figures, concluding that in Portugal, it can take 792 days to get a case through “the first instance” (meaning the first court hearing), 836 for the second (often ‘an appeal’) and 261 for the third (generally ‘final appeal’).

This is one of the reasons why so many citizens end up dying before their cases reach a conclusion, which in many instances can be nothing short of a scandal – this perhaps being one of the most heartbreaking recent cases to show-up Portugal’s dismal performance 

Confusing the issue is the fact that this fairly abysmal record comes on the back of Portugal’s position as “6th most digitised country in EU terms of the digitalisation of the justice system” (this covers issues like remote communication systems (such as videoconferencing), electronic case management, automatic distribution, teleworking for judges and other judicial officers and also the use of artificial intelligence applications.

Estonia, Germany, Austria, Spain and Poland are ahead of Portugal in digitalisation, and way ahead in terms of ‘speed’ for actually seeing cases get to court and come to a conclusion.

This was the 11th edition of the EU Justice Scoreboard, an annual overview with comparative data on the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems in EU Member States.

The European Commission concludes that overall in the EU area, “the efficiency of EU justice systems is improving, but the perception of judicial independence remains in question”.

Source material: LUSA