Giving evidence in the UK from Spain, ask permission

The EU Package Travel Directive aims to improve (travelers’) rights, which include the right to compensation in the event that the travel organizer fails to properly perform the services provided within the package purchased. “Packaged travel” refers to packages of travel services that typically include transportation, hotels and other services, such as car rentals.

Every year, UK regulators receive thousands of complaints from dissatisfied consumers demanding compensation for alleged non-compliance with services provided by the Spanish provider, which can often lead to litigation before the British courts. In court cases, the supplier’s testimony, and his subsequent appearance via video or in person, are essential to his defense.

In the UK, requests for witness evidence in civil and commercial cases from other countries are regulated by the Hague Convention and bilateral agreements between the UK and other countries. In 2023, the Commonwealth and Overseas Development Office (FCDO) published guidance on the procedure to be followed by litigants who wish to provide witnesses from abroad. Although some countries allow this, the guide does not mention important holiday destinations for Britons such as Greece, Portugal or Spain.

This evidence was published following the issuance of the ruling in this case Agbabiaka (Try Out; Fire Guide) [2021] Based on oral evidence to be given via videoconference by a person present in the territory of a country other than the United Kingdom. The sentence includes the following explanation:

“There has been an understanding between countries for a long time [Nación] That a State may not attempt to exercise the powers of its courts in the territory of another State, without obtaining permission from that other State to do so. Any breach of this Agreement by a UK court threatens to damage the UK’s diplomatic relations with other countries and is therefore contrary to the public interest.“.

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On November 29, 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation established the Evidence Collection Unit. [“ToE”]Its aim is to verify the position of a foreign state regarding obtaining oral evidence from its citizens. The procedure may take time. First, inquiries are directed to the ToE, as well as to the relevant embassy or high commission, to ensure that the country from which evidence is to be obtained raises no objection. The applicant must then inform the competent court of the results of its investigations.

Spain has since clarified that it does not allow its citizens to give evidence by video in the UK. Proof can be made by means of a written statement read at a court hearing. However, the refusal of permission causes a kind of incapacity for the British organizer who is being prosecuted, because he cannot provide important evidence, such as the appearance of a witness via video from our country, his cross-examination and the opportunity to answer him before the judge and parties.

Marc Ripoll

Monlex Lawyer

[email protected]

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