Law 10/2012 of November 20 2012 regulates certain taxes relating to the administration of justice. In IP matters, these taxes constitute a variable and a fixed-rate tax, both of which must be paid in civil and contentious administrative proceedings at the first-instance, appeal and cassation levels, as appropriate.

Facts

On February 19 2013 the Socialist Parliamentary Group of the Congress of Deputies brought an action before the Constitutional Court (Rec 973/2013), challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of Law 10/2012.

Decision

On July 21 2016 the court issued a judgment partially upholding the action and declaring the following to be unconstitutional and invalid:

  • most of the taxes set for accessing the courts; and
  • all of the taxes set for bringing appeals.

The court considered that the disproportionate values of the taxes violated the fundamental right of citizens to effective judicial protection (Article 24.1 of the Constitution) and deterred them from turning to the courts to exercise this right.

IP proceedings

As regards IP proceedings, the court declared that the variable tax – determined by applying the corresponding tax rate to the economic value of a dispute – was unconstitutional and invalid.

Further, the court abolished the €800 tax on filing an appeal and the €1,200 tax on filing a cassation appeal or an extraordinary procedural infringement action in the civil courts.

As regards contentious administrative proceedings, the court invalidated the €350 tax on bringing ordinary contentious administrative actions and the taxes of €800 and €1,200 on filing appeal and cassation actions (respectively), in all forms.

Thus, while legal persons must still pay the fixed rate of €300 in the first instance in ordinary civil proceedings on IP matters, they no longer have to pay the variable tax or any other tax – fixed or variable – in the other instances (ie, on appeal or cassation).

As regards contentious administrative proceedings, no taxes – fixed or variable – have to be paid, as the court invalidated those corresponding to first-instance, appeal and cassation proceedings.

Finally, the court agreed that, under the legal certainty principle, its declaration of the taxes' invalidity is not retroactive. Therefore, no invalidated taxes which have already been paid will be refunded.

Comment

The taxes affected by this judgment are only those demanded of legal persons, as an earlier legislative reform exempted individuals from these taxes.

For further information on this topic please contact Beatriz Bejarano at Grau & Angulo by telephone (+34 93 202 34 56) or email (b.bejarano@gba-ip.com). The Grau & Angulo website can be accessed at www.gba-ip.com.

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