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Case law of European countries : Spain

Unlocking Spanish case citations

Sentencia (judgments/decisions)

STC Tribunal Constitucional
Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo
SAN Sentencia Audencia Nacional
SAP Sentencia Audencia Provincial
STSJ Sentencia Tribunal Superior de Justicia

If citation includes RJ this is to the law report series called Repertorio [Aranzadi] de Jurisprudencia. This is shelved at Spain 100 A6 from v.1(1930/1) to date. At the same shelf mark we have the Índice progresivo de jurisprudencia.

El Tribunal Constitucional

The Tribunal constitucional, Spain's constitutional court is not considered part of the court system but an independent institution. It is the supreme interpreter of the Constitution, and final defender of  human and civil rights.

Its decisions - jurisprudencia constitucional - control the validity of legislation. It issues sentencia, autos and declaraciones, all of which can be found in the Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE, the official gazette). The BOE can be cited in the following manner:

(BOE núm, 16m de 19 de enero de 2011)

Sentencia (judgments) are usually cited according to the formula:

STC [case number]/[yyyy], de [dd] de [month] de [yyyy]

For example:

STC 143/2010, de 21 de diciembre [de 2010]

Autos end the proceedings but make no decision on the subject matter. They are cited in the following way: 

  Auto 1/1980 TC, Sala Segunda, de 11 augusto

Print resources

Repertorio Aranzadi del Tribunal Constitucional (1981- ) Spain 100 A10
Cuadernos Aranzadi del Tribunal Constitucional Spain 510 T821.5a

La jurisprudencia : constitutional & civil case law

Sources of law

The Spanish Civil Code defines the primary sources of law: 

Article 1 of the Civil Code

"(1.) The sources of the Spanish legal system are statutes, customary laws and the general principles of law. 

La jurisprudencia

While written sources of law (including the Constitution and ordinary legislation) are defined as the primary source of law, the Civil Code refers to case law - la jurisprudencia - as a complementary source of law: 

Article 1 of the Civil Code

(6.) Case law shall complement the legal system by means of the doctrine repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court in its interpretation and application of statutes, customs and general legal principles.

The Supreme Court, the Tribunal supremo, interprets decisions made by lower courts tp 

Lower courts must follow the line set by the Tribunal Supremo in its decisions.

Printed resources

Recopiliación de doctrina legal (1960-1999) Spain 100 C10
RJ Repertorio [Aranzadi] de Jurisprudencia (1930 - ) Spain 100 A6
Doctrina penal del Tribunal Supremo (1959- ) Spain 150 R696a2