Given the international public health emergency and considering the current exceptional situation, within the measures that have been adopted by the Government of Portugal to mitigate the potential adverse economic impacts, yesterday Law No. 1-A/2020, of 19 March, was published, which approves exceptional and temporary measures to tackle the epidemiological situation caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease COVID-19.
Within this Law, we consider relevant the set of measures related to deadlines and procedural steps, which, basically, consist on its suspension and application of the judicial holiday regime (article 7 of the referred Law).
For your convenience, we have copy below the most relevant measures included in this article:
- “To the procedural and processual acts that shall be performed within the processes and procedures, which run in judicial, administrative and tax courts, Constitutional court, Court of Auditors and other jurisdictional bodies, arbitral courts, Public Prosecution Service, justices of the peace, entities of alternative dispute resolution and tax enforcement bodies, the judicial holiday regime applies until this exceptional situation ceases”.
- “This exceptional situation is also cause for the suspension of the prescription and statute of limitation periods related to all types of processes and procedures” overruling “over any regimes that establish maximum mandatory periods of prescription or statute of limitation periods, which are extended for the period of time in which the exceptional situation prevails”;
- In urgent cases, the deadlines are suspended, except when technically feasible, in which “the practice of any procedural steps is allowed through appropriate distance media communication, namely by conference call or video call”. In this sense, “only are undertaken in person urgent acts and measures in which fundamental rights are at stake, namely procedural steps relating to minors of age at risk or urgent educational guardianship proceedings, steps and trials of arrested defendants, provided that this steps or trials do not imply the presence of a number of people higher than that provided by the recommendations of the health authorities and according to the guidelines set by the competent higher councils”;
- Exceptionally, the judicial holidays regime also apply, with the necessary adaptations, to “procedures that run under notaries and registry offices” as well as “administrative, sanctioning and disciplinary procedures, and respective acts and measures that run according to direct, indirect, regional and municipal administration services, and other administrative entities, namely independent administrative entities, including the Bank of Portugal and the Portuguese Stock Market Regulator”;
- During this exceptional period, and also based on the judicial holidays regime, the “administrative and tax deadlines regarding private individuals” are also suspended, namely “acts of judicial claims, administrative appeals, hierarchical appeals, or other procedures of similar nature, as well as deadlines for acts within the same tax procedures”.
The provisions of this Law, as well as provisions of Decree-Law No. 10-A/2020, of 13 March, overrule over contrary legal, general and special rules, namely those included in the State Budget Law.
This regime is applicable until the exceptional situation of prevention, containment, mitigation and treatment of the epidemiological infection by SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 disease, as determined by the national public health authority, ceases, on a date to be defined by a Decree-Law in which the end of the exceptional situation will be stated.
After the termination of the aforementioned exceptional situation, the Parlament will adapt, in its own diploma, the judicial holidays periods to be in force in 2020.
This Law is effective as of 13 March 2020.