Portugal is the 5th EU country with the longest duration of legal proceedings


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Portugal is the fifth European Union (EU) member state with the longest duration of proceedings in courts of first instance and higher courts, and the EU country with the slowest decisions by consumer protection authorities.

These figures appear in the European Union’s (EU) Justice 2023 Scoreboard, published today by the European Commission in Brussels, which is used to monitor judicial reforms in member states on issues such as efficiency, quality and independence of courts.

In terms of efficiency, one of the indicators analyzed is the length of proceedings, and in this area Portugal is the fifth worst EU member state, with a total of 792 days for first instance, 836 for second instance and 261 for third instance, based on 2021 data.

Portugal is ahead of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Malta and Greece, in an order determined by the court with the longest proceedings in each member state.

In these “five member states, which face problems of length of proceedings in courts of first instance, higher courts are more efficient”, notes the EU executive in this year’s EU Justice Scoreboard.

Portugal is also the worst EU country for the average length of administrative decisions taken by consumer protection authorities, with a total of 837 days in 2021 and an average of 796.6 between 2014 and 2021.

As for corruption cases, namely bribes, it takes an average of 377 days to process them in Portugal, according to data from 2021.

When it comes to the use of technology by courts and prosecutors’ offices, Portugal is the sixth EU country with the most advanced digitization of the judicial system, given the 2022 results for issues such as remote communication systems (such as videoconferencing), electronic case management, automatic distribution, teleworking for judges and other judicial officers, and the use of artificial intelligence applications.

Estonia, Germany, Austria, Spain and Poland are ahead of Portugal in this area of digitization.

In this 11th edition of the EU Justice Scoreboard, an annual summary containing comparative data on the efficiency, quality and independence of judicial systems in EU member states, the European Commission concludes that, across the EU as a whole, “the efficiency of EU judicial systems is improving, but the perception of the independence of the judiciary remains in question”.

Launched in 2013, the EU Justice Scoreboard is one of the tools used to assess respect for the rule of law.

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