Supreme Court of Spain

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Supreme Court of Spain
Tribunal Supremo
Established 1812
Country Spain
Location Convent of the Salesas Reales, Madrid
Composition method Appointed by Monarch on selection by the General Council of the Judicial Power
Authorized by Constitution of Spain
Judge term length Appointed for life until retired at 70
Number of positions 74 (may change by Act of Parliament)
Website Portal del Tribunal Supremo
President of the Supreme Court
Currently Gonzalo Moliner Tamborero
Since July 2012

The Supreme Court of Spain (Spanish: Tribunal Supremo de España) is the highest court in Spain for all matters not pertaining to the Spanish Constitution. The court meets in the Convent of the Salesas Reales in Madrid and consists of a president and an indeterminate number of magistrates, appointed to the five chambers of the court.


The Supreme Court is the court of last resort and can provide finality in all legal issues. It can exercise original jurisdiction over matters of great importance but usually functions as an appellate court able to investigate procedural irregularities arising from actions in the national courts or Provincial courts. It can order ordinary and extraordinary remedies against decisions of lower courts according to the provisions of Spanish law.

The Supreme Court is responsible for processing substantial complaints of wrongdoing against prominent persons such as government ministers, senators representatives and members of the various regional parliaments, senior judges, including the President and judges of the Constitutional Court, the highest tribunal in the country.

It also processes formal applications by the procurator (public prosecutor) to outlaw political parties,

Generally, there is no avenue of appeal against a Supreme Court decision although in criminal matters, the Crown may exercise the prerogative of mercy to invalidate sentences imposed or ratified by the Supreme Court, but constitutionally, such appeals are resolved by the Council of Ministers and then formalized by the monarch, as head of state.

Supreme Court decisions may, exceptionally, be overruled by the Constitutional Court if there has been an infringement of rights and freedoms of citizens embodied in the Spanish Constitution of 1978 or by decisions emanating from the European Court of Human Rights since Spain is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Constitutional status[edit]

The Supreme Court is one of the three branches of the Spanish government, alongside the legislature and the executive

To ensure its independence, the Supreme Court has the prerogative to enforce its actions under the principle of obedience to final judicial decisions enshrined in the Constitution. Also, most its resolutions are reliable since they are solutions to appeal against the considered decisions of lower courts.

The Supreme Court is the only entity that can order the detention of members of the its own judiciary or the legislature or executive authorities and then impeach them according to the additional civil and criminal obligations, which, by law, it must discharge diligently in the performance of their official duties.

Peer review is provided by the Supreme Judicial Council, a panel of senior Supreme Court judges that monitors the Supreme Court practice and operation, but the decisions of this Council are advisory and may be annulled by due process in a Supreme Court action.


The Supreme Court is divided into five chambers, each dealing with a specific areas of Spanish law that may affect ordinary citizens and four special chambers dealing with state issues.

  1. Sala Primera Civil Law
  2. Sala Segunda Criminal Law
  3. Sala Tercera Contentious-Administrative Action (judicial court dealing with issues related to the activity of the public powers)
  4. Sala Cuarta Social Law
  5. Sala Quinta Military Law
Supreme Court of Spain
  • The Special unnamed Chamber of Article #61 of the General law (Ley Orgánica) of the Judiciary deals with process of outlawing political parties, the investigation and correction of judicial error on reporting and accountability in the exercise of judicial functions and other legal processes of particular importance. The tribunal is composed of the Chief Justice, sitting with the serving presidents of the five Chambers, and one independent senior judge.
  • The Board of Conflicts of Jurisdiction resolves conflicts of jurisdiction arising between members of different judicial branches such as overlaps or lacunas between different courts or where claims or denials of competence by different chambers are incompatible. The Chief Justice and one Judge drawn of each of the Boards supervising jurisdictions where conflict has arisen.
  • The Board of Jurisdictional Disputes resolves conflicts and deficiencies arising between the ordinary civil courts and organs of military justice. The Chief Justice, two Judges of the Board for the relevant civil court (within the ordinary civil jurisdictional competence of Salas 1-4) plus two judges from the military chamber (Sala Quinta).

Governing bodies[edit]

In subordination to the Supreme Judicial Council, the Supreme Court's governing bodies are responsible for hearing and resolving administrative issues that may arise:

  • The Office of The Chief Justice (Presidente del Tribunal Supremo).
  • The Administration Division of the Supreme Court, comprising the Chief Justice, the Presidents of each of its divisions and a number of additional judges specified by the Spanish General Law of Judicial Power.

Management bodies[edit]

  • The Office of Chief Justice (Presidente del Tribunal Supremo),
  • The Technical Documentation and Information service
  • The Department of Archives, Library and Information
  • The Department of Computer Science
  • An external relations unit that maintains a General Register of external administrative and technical specialist services that may provide expert assistance.

List of presidents of the Supreme Court of Spain[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]