National case law


In Spain, the case law is not considered to be a source of law, as Article 1 (1) of the Civil Code lays down as such the law, custom and general principles of law (Article 1.1 CC). However, Article 1 (6) of the Civil Code provides that the case-law ‘shall supplement the legal order with the doctrine which the Tribunal Supremo (Supreme Court) repeatedly states in interpreting and applying the law, custom and general principles of law’. Moreover, the right of access to public information is specifically recognised in Article 105 of the Spanish Constitution.

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Access to case law

Article 560 (1.10) of the Organic Law on the Judiciary establishes the powers of the General Council of the Judiciary “the official publication of judgments and other judgments to be determined by the Supreme Court and the other judicial bodies.

To that end, the General Council of the Judiciary, acting on a report from the competent authorities, shall establish by way of regulation how the e-books of judgments, their collection, processing, dissemination and certification are to be prepared to ensure their integrity, authenticity and accessibility, as well as to ensure compliance with the legislation on the protection of personal data’.

In addition, Article 560 (1.16) (e) of the Law on the Judiciary provides for the General Council of the Judiciary (Consejo General del Poder Judicial), the regulatory authority, in the strict framework of the implementation of the provisions of the Organic Law on the Judiciary, as regards the publication and re-use of judicial decisions.

In order to comply with the law, the General Council of the Judiciary established in 1997 the Judicial Documentation Centre, Cendoj, located in San Sebastian. In accordance with the provisions of Article 619 of the Organic Law on the Judiciary, this technical body of the CGPJ is responsible for the selection, organisation, processing, dissemination and publication of legislative, judicial and doctrinal information.

The configuration of this new public access service to case law produced in the various judicial bodies under best technical conditions, as well as with special protection for individuals with regard to automated data processing and establishing appropriate mechanisms to facilitate accessibility, interoperability, quality and re-use of published information, is based on the legal mandates contained in Organic Law 6/1985 of 1 July on the Judiciary and Law 19/2013 of 9 December 2013 on transparency, access to public information and good governance, and Regulation 1/1997 of the Centre for Judicial Documentation and Law 18/2015 of 9 July 2010 amending Law 37/2007 of 16 November on the re-use of public sector information, which transposes Directive 2013/37/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013.

In its enforcement, the Judicial Documentation Centre implements a system for the dissemination of judgments and other judicial decisions through the official publication of judgments and other decisions of the Supreme Court and other judicial bodies, (a) available through an online search engine, freely accessible, free of charge, upon removal of personal data, to the public; (b) In the restricted environment to the judiciary with added values (links to national and foreign law and case law as well as to judgments of the Constitutional Court) within the functions inherent in the CGPJ itself as the governing body of Spanish judges and courts; (c) The cross-border circulation of decisions of the Spanish courts published by the Cendoj on the website, for mutual understanding of the legal systems and case law of the Member States of the European Union, in accordance with the Council conclusions (2011/C 127/01) on the ‘European e-Justice Portal’ and via the Ibero-American Information and Documentation Network, Iberius, and the making available of various re-users of the information as well as to other users not re-users in accordance with the provisions of those legal rules.

The Cendoj database should be joined to the basis of the Constitutional Court’s database containing information on judgments delivered by that High Court.

There are also private databases, with limited access by payment of a quota.

Presentation of case law

As far as the case law of the Supreme Court is concerned, Cendoj has created a technology platform that is structured into a platform-based navigation system.

When executing a query, you will open a ‘Results tab’ (the results obtained) and another ‘BÚSQUEDA’ tab (which allows you to use the form at any time).

The search engine allows for quick and secure access to all court rulings from the Supreme Court. The search for resolutions can be done by fields of selection, which identify or classify such resolutions, or by free text fields.

It also has the option to directly access the last 50 rulings of each jurisdiction by clicking on the buttons at the bottom of the interface. It thus has the possibility of having access to the most recent judgments which have been received and incorporated in the database which formed the substance of the case -law.

It also offers a cloud of tags with themes, the most most in demand, so that by clicking on each of them, it offers judgments on the subject.

Search field searches

Some of the resolution information fields may be ring-fenced by a range of possible values. Accordingly:

  • ‘Court’: selection of the focus area: civil, criminal, labour, military.
  • Drawer ‘Type of resolution’: it allows you to select a judgement (s), Orders or Agreements from the TS:
  • Date of decision: the calendar button allows you to trace the search between dates.
  • Language: release button allowing to select the language of the resolutions you want to retrieve.

Search for free text fields

In addition to the selection fields, there are other fields in the resolutions, which do not have bound values but may contain any string of text, and for which we will have to perform free searches.


After consultation, the results are presented by default of 10 in 10.

The results are presented as follows:

RELATED TERMS: Only in the restricted environment is the system automatically offered terms associated with the consultation carried out.

Title, ROJ number of the recovered case law as well as the European Case Law Identifier (‘European Case Law Identifier’)

The following fields of information are presented:

  • Type of unit: for example, the Supreme Court.
  • Municipality: e.g. Madrid — Section: 1
  • Rapporteur: name... surname...
  • Appeal No. 88/2007 — Date: 26/06/2008
  • Type Resolution: e.g. Judgment
  • Office, alphabetical order

Finally, by clicking on the title of the desired result, a new page displaying the full content of the document retrieved is opened. This document is open to the public in PDF format.


Judgments are usually available in databases in PDF (public) and RTF and HTML formats in a restricted environment to the judiciary.

Judgments and orders available

  • The Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Your case law is published in full online free of charge for your knowledge. The full text, with personal data (anonymised) and an efficient search engine, which does so above all in the text of the rulings. This database can be accessed in Cendoj TS.

  • Other courts

The Cendoj database makes available to the public free of charge, together with the judgments and rulings of the Supreme Court, the judgments issued by the Audiencia Nacional, the High Courts of Justice and the Provincial Courts, as well as a selection of orders from those collegiate courts and judgments and orders issued by the Central Military Court, the Territorial Military Court and a single judge.

Other procedures

Information is available?

  • On appeals?
  • Whether the case is resolved?
  • Über das Ergebnis von Rechtsmittelverfahren?
  • Irrevocability of the decision?
  • Other procedures?

The full text of the judgments without added value is displayed in the information open to the public, without prejudice to the fact that in many cases the decision itself includes information on the finality (irrevocability). Those resolutions also incorporate the votes cast, if any. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the database offered in the restricted environment to the judiciary profession (Cendoj), links are included which link the contested decision with that of the higher court, summaries, meaning of the operative part, reference to judgments cited in favour or against; the case-law cited, applied or interpreted; classification of the judgment: it develops general concepts, consolidates case-law or innovative judgment and the classification of the decision by the voices of Cendoj’s own legal Thesaurus.

Publication rules

Are there binding rules for publication of case law at national level or depending on the type of court?

They are laid down in Article 560 (1.10) of the LOPJ, which determines that the General Council of the Judiciary will be responsible for the official publication of judgments and other judgments to be determined by the Supreme Court and the other judicial bodies.

There are also rules for publication in the Regulation establishing the Judicial Documentation Centre.

Publication of the judgment or selection only? If so, which criteria apply?

The full judgments are published, not in extract, and the entirety of the judgments issued by the collegiate courts are published and a selection of decisions issued by a single judge is published in the terms set out above.

Related links

Case law finder from the Judicial Documentation Centre:

Last update: 23/09/2020

This is a machine translated version of the content. The owner of this page accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the quality of this machine translated text.