Part of the exceptional and temporary measures in response to the epidemiological situation caused by COVID-19, the suspension of procedural time limits was finally ordered with retroactive effects from March 13.
Article 7 of Law 1-A/2020 sets forth the suspension of all proceedings and procedural actions that are running their course with any judicial authorities, namely judicial courts, administrative and fiscal courts, the Constitutional Court, Justices of the Peace and administrative dispute settlement entities, by the application of judicial vacation until the end of this exceptional situation.
This suspension also applies to all procedures running their courses in notaries, which include inventories, registries, administrative offences and disciplinary procedures that are running their course with any public administration service or any other administrative entities, such as Banco de Portugal and Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários.
The situation in paragraph 3 of the article above is particularly relevant as it sets forth the suspension of prescription and expiration time limits for all types of proceedings and procedures.
Urgent proceedings are also suspended. These include injunctions, insolvency procedures and special revitalization procedures, with the exceptions being set forth by paragraphs 8 and 9 of this Law.
Cases that relate to fundamental rights, namely those concerning defendants serving time or minors at risk, are guaranteed and shall proceed according to the guidelines established by the relevant boards, provided they do not violate the recommendations of health authorities when it comes to the number of persons present, unequivocal situations.
Paragraph 8 states that “Whenever technically viable, the execution of any proceeding or procedural action via proper distance communication means, such as teleconference or video call, is permitted”, which allows us to wonder whether the time limits concerning urgent proceedings that can be executed via citius are still maintained.
In our opinion, this law may be interpreted as if the time limits of the proceedings above are also suspended. However, the wording is not clear and raises doubts.
Eviction orders, special eviction procedures and procedures of delivery of rented properties are also suspended in cases where a judicial decision finds that the lessees are being put in a situation of vulnerability due to the lack of housing. The execution of mortgages on properties that are owned by the debtors and are their permanent residence are suspended as well.
This regime ends in a date yet to be defined by the decree-law that declares the end of this exceptional situation.
The Litigation and Arbitration Law Department of Belzuz Abogados S.L.P. – Portugal will continue to give updates on all measures that may be adopted and is available to advise its Clients during this crisis period.
Belzuz Abogados SLP
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