22 June 23 | Lisboa
New Central Administrative Court

New Central Administrative Court is coming… and other changes in terms of Administrative Procedure Legislation

A new Central Administrative Court is coming… and other changes in terms of Administrative Procedure Legislation

The Government presented to Parliament (AR) the Proposta de Lei n.º 75/XV/1 to obtain legislative authorization regarding the relative reserve. In the sense and scope presented by the Executive (art. 2.º da Proposta de Lei n.º 75/XV/1), besides the changes in tax litigation and in structural matters of the administrative and tax Jurisdiction model, two significant changes stand out, both dedicated to decongestion[1] of the Central Courts that reproduce with great similarity the proposals presented in the 2.º Relatório intercalar do Grupo de Trabalho para a Justiça Administrativa e Fiscal.

The first has to do with the creation of a new Central Administrative Court, located in the central region, more precisely in Castelo Branco[2]. In addition to the obvious organizational purpose, it is a measure of territorial cohesion. In the hearing given to the Minister of Justice, within the scope of this legislative authorization, the various Parliamentary Groups expressed their agreement with this proposal but drew attention to the need for the respective monitoring of human resources. The Conselho Superior dos Tribunais Administrativos e Fiscais (CSTAF), called upon to give its opinion on this matter, also gave - on this point - a positive opinion.

The second amendment that we highlight is the creation and regulation of the common administrative, social and public procurement subsections of the Central Courts (in addition to the current art. 32.º ETAF[3]), with an imperative inclination and not by deliberation of the CSTAF as suggested by the Relatório Intercalar. The latter two will assume, according to the legislative project presented by the Government (v. new wording of art. 37.º ETAF), as causes to judge those that are currently foreseen in the competences of the respective specialized administrative courts [art. 44.º-A, n.º 1 b) e c), respectively, from the current ETAF] of the Common Administrative Courts. With this alteration, CSTAF is only responsible for the possibility, under proposal, of distributing the processes of the common section among the others based on volume and complexity of the service (cfr., proposed wording for the new n.º 3 do art. 37.º ETAF). 

With a clear (good) intention of promoting specialization in decision-making, with contributions to efficiency and speed[4], it should be noted that a subsection concerning disputes related to urban planning, environmental law and territorial planning was not correspondingly created, according to the existing possibility in the jurisdictional courts specialized, at a time when substantive legislation is witnessing an urban procedural simplification driven by legislative measures on Housing with the same rationalizing nature.

[1] Cfr. technical note prepared by AR services on the Proposta de Lei n.º 75/XV/1.

[2] This location, which, in principle, will put an end to the Projeto de Lei n.º 53/XV/1.ª, a legislative initiative presented by the PSD Parliamentary Group for the creation of a Central Administrative Court in Coimbra.

[3] Estatuto dos Tribunais Administrativos e Fiscais (Statute of the Administrative and Tax Courts).

[4] Or for rationality, as LOPES, Dulce (Propostas de Intervenções Legislativas na Jurisdição Administrativa e Fiscal in Revista de Direito Administrativo, n.º3, Lisboa: AAFDL, 2018, p. 50) called it regarding the proposal that culminated in the legislative revision that created the specialized jurisdiction courts.

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