Parliament and the Government have approved new exceptional and temporary response measures due to the impact of COVID-19 in Portugal, amongst which is the stay/suspension of procedural deadlines and the postponement of court hearings and acts.
All deadlines for the practice of procedural acts in proceedings before the courts are currently suspended, with some exceptions, as mentioned below.
For example, the law states that urgent proceedings (as defined in the law or by a judicial decision) will continue to run their course without any suspension, as long as all acts and/or hearings can take place through remote communication channels or, when it is necessary for these to be held in person, that the same comply with the recommendations of the health authorities.
As for acts and hearings pertaining to non-urgent proceedings, these may continue to take place, as long as all parties accept it and expressly declare that it is possible to carry out the act/hearing through remote communication channels. However, should the hearing entail taking evidence from witnesses or parties and, in criminal proceedings, hearing the defendant or the assistant to the Prosecution, these must take place in a court or another public building, as long as the site complies with the recommendations of the health
The parties, their representatives or other intervening parties who are over 70 years old, immuno-compromised or suffering from a chronic illness, thus considered to be at risk, do not have to be present at the court, and may instead be heard through remote communication channels from their legal or professional address.
In all proceedings, the court clerks should continue to carry out the usual acts that do not involve the participation of the other parties. Likewise, judges should continue to issue judgements in all proceedings where it is not necessary to carry out any more acts and/or hearings.
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