JUSTICE

Justice minister does partial backtrack on court charges

Fees to be reduced or abolished in some cases such as eviction from family home

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón told lawmakers in Congress on Tuesday that he plans to partially modify controversial court filing charges that his department recently introduced.

The fees for basic legal measures such as divorce petitions have raised the hackles of members of the judiciary system itself, who have argued it restricts access to justice to the well-off.

Gallardón said his department is drawing up a decree that will make changes to the law introducing the charges and will anticipate aspects of a free justice law he is also preparing.

The decision to backtrack came in response to a report by the Ombudsman, Soledad Becerril, highlighting anomalies in the legislation. Gallardón insists the charging system is needed to prevent courts being bogged down by needless lawsuits and appeals, but acknowledges charges should be reduced in some cases and eliminated in others such as cases involving evictions from the family home.