Brief description of the access to the judiciary

Access to the judicial profession is regulated by articles 301 et seq of Judicial Power Organization Act 6/1985 of 1 July, and is based on the principles of merit and ability for the exercise of judicial functions. The selection process guarantees, in an objective and transparent manner, equality of access for all citizens that meet the necessary conditions, possess the necessary abilities, and have the required professional competence and aptitude for exercising judicial functions.

Entry is possible through any of the three levels that make up the judicial profession, to wit: 

  • Supreme Court Magistrate
  • Magistrate
  • Judge

Entry in the judicial profession as a judge is obtained after passing an open competition and a selection course encompassing practical and theoretical training in the Judicial School. The competition, which in theory must be held at least every two years, has taken place, since 1998, in practice once a year. Since 2001 it has been carried out together with the competition for entry in the career system for prosecutors, such that the persons approved choose, depending on the score obtained and the jobs offered, between entering the Judicial School or the Centre for Legal and Judicial Studies of the Ministry of Justice.

The requirements for participating in the open competition are:

  • Having Spanish nationality
  • Being over the age of 18
  • Having a law degree
  • Not having:

1. physical or psychological obstacles to carrying out judicial functions,

2. been convicted of an intentional crime without reinstatement,

3. been prosecuted or indicted for an intentional crime without being acquitted or without dismissal of the proceedings,

4. possession of the full exercise of one's civil rights.

The convening body is the Selection Committee, which consists of:

  • a member of the General Council of the Judiciary or a coordinating prosecutor, who shall preside over the body alternatively on an annual basis,
  • a magistrate,
  • a prosecutor,
  • the director of the Judicial School,
  • the director of the Centre for Legal and Judicial Studies of the Ministry of Justice
  • a member of the technical bodies of the General Council of the Judiciary, in addition to an employee of the Ministry of Justice, at the minimum level of assistant director, who holds a law degree and will carry out alternatively the duties of commission secretariat.

The composition of the tribunal that will evaluate the entry tests for admittance to the judicial profession and the career system for prosecutors will be:

  • a Supreme Court or High Court Magistrate, or a coordinating prosecutor or prosecutor attached to the Supreme Court, or a prosecutor in the High Court, who will preside over the tribunal
  • two magistrates,
  • two prosecutors,
  • a university law professor,
  • a state attorney,
  • a lawyer who has been practicing the law for ten years or more,
  • a first-category clerk of court, who will act as rapporteur-secretary.

The system for admission into the judiciary, which lasts for approximately three years, is as follows:

  • Successful completion of a first phase of competitive examination, involving three tests:

1. Test One (first half of the year): this entails successfully passing a test with 100 questions on constitutional law, civil law, criminal law and procedural law. The test has a duration of two hours and forty-five minutes.

2. Test Two (April to July, approximately): a presentation taking in 5 topics over 60 minutes (one focusing on constitutional law, two focusing on civil law and two focusing on criminal law).

3. Test Three (second half of the year): a presentation taking in 5 topics over 60 minutes (two focusing on civil procedural law, one focusing on criminal procedural law, one focusing on commercial law and one focusing on administrative or labour law).

  • Successful completion of a second phase at the Judicial School, entailing three periods:

1. First Period (from January to the beginning of December, approximately): successful completion of a theoretical-practical course in the Judicial School in Barcelona.

2. Second Period (from mid-December to June, approximately): work experience involving serving as an assistant and collaborating with the incumbent judges of the judicial bodies in which the work experience is acquired, who will act as tutors.

3. Third Period (from July to November, approximately): a phase wherein candidates will serve as pro tempore and support judges, with the same powers as the incumbent judge of the judicial body in question.