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Malaga Courts 150,000 pending cases

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Malaga Courts

The justice system in Malaga is facing a serious backlog of over 150,000 pending cases cases

The historical lack of resources in the justice administration and the distinctive criminal characteristics of Málaga make this province particularly challenging. Its favourable climate and strategic location, about 14 kilometres from Morocco – the world’s largest producer of hashish – and just an hour and a half by car from Algeciras – a key entry point for cocaine into the continent – have led to the establishment of organised crime on the Costa del Sol. Consequently, there is a higher volume of cases, increasingly complex in nature.

It is evident that the province, with 81,873 cases filed in its various judicial bodies during the first nine months of the year, has the highest litigation rate – the number of lawsuits initiated during that period – in Andalucía, followed by Seville (62,998), Cádiz (43,590), Granada (33,874), Almería (26,489), Córdoba (23,591), Huelva (18,308), and Jaén (17,072). It also ranks fourth in Spain in this regard, only behind Madrid (236,475), Barcelona (201,893), and Valencia (86,585). This information is reported in the statistical report on the situation of judicial bodies for the third quarter of 2023, compiled by the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) and consulted by this newspaper.

In addition, the four jurisdictions – civil, criminal, administrative-contestable, and social – already carried 148,555 previous proceedings at the beginning of the year, which have accumulated with those registered until September of this year. A total of 75,228 cases were closed during this period, leaving 156,278 cases pending for the next period. These figures result in a litigation rate of 46.7 per thousand inhabitants. They also represent a resolution rate of 0.92, a pending rate – or, in other words, the ratio between pending cases at the end of a period and the number of cases resolved in that time – of 2.08, and a congestion rate of 3.06.

The criminal procedures (55,052) stand out prominently among the numbers. In the matters handled by these judicial bodies in Málaga, 36,243 entered the Investigating Courts, 11,464 entered the Courts of First Instance and Investigation, and 3,762 were in the courts dealing with Violence against Women. The Courts of First Instance (civil procedures, 22,281) accumulated 13,629 litigations, followed by the Courts of First Instance and Investigation in this jurisdiction, with 5,866, and the Social Courts (3,831). The Málaga Court of Appeal has received a total of 2,764 cases, 1,491 criminal and 1,193 civil.

While the numbers are overwhelming, a comparison with the same period in 2014, the first year with records of litigation in the province, reveals that the number of cases filed was much higher then: 110,696, with 106,611 resolved and 108,774 pending. During the third quarter of 2015, the registered procedures slightly decreased to 110,591. It is in 2016 when a sharp drop in cases reaching the Málaga courts occurred, with 63,015. However, since then, the trend has remained upward – except for 2021, a year when the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 continued.

The pending execution of sentences is also excessively high, reaching 93,203 in the case of the province. In the civil jurisdiction, the most concerning figures are held: at the end of September of this year, there were 76,644 executions pending, with only 3,420 registered and 5,174 resolved during the third quarter of 2023. In the criminal category, 4,550 were resolved during the same period, with 3,376 new cases. Nevertheless, when the year concluded, 16,798 sentences were still pending execution.

The litigation in the autonomous and national context does not show any decrease either.

In the third quarter of this year, the judicial bodies in Andalucía, as well as the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, also experienced a 7.3% increase in litigation compared to the same period last year. The jurisdictional orders that saw the highest increase in the number of cases filed at the regional level were Administrative-Contestable and Civil, while Social and Criminal jurisdictions also increased but to a lesser extent.

Regionally, a total of 321,920 cases were filed, representing a 7.3% increase compared to the same quarter of the previous year. During this period, Spanish courts resolved 283,326 cases, an increase of 2.7% from a year ago. The number of cases pending at the end of the quarter, 747,814 in total, increased by 15.2% compared to 2022.

The litigation rate in Spain as a whole was 34.5 cases per 1,000 inhabitants. Regions with a litigation rate higher than the national average were Canarias (44.5), Baleares (37.7), Andalucía (36.8), Cataluña (36.6), Madrid (36), Asturias (34.9), and Murcia (34.7). The territories with the lowest litigation rates were País Vasco (23.2), La Rioja (26.3), and Extremadura (27.2).

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