The Public
Prosecution Service
and the State

The State is each and every one of us, as people usually say

The State, as the highest governing body of the organized society, while pursuing the interests of the citizens and the common good, intervenes in society in pursuit of its purposes by taking action in several life domains.

In court, can the State too be a claimant or a defendant?

The State is a subject vested with rights and duties and, as such, it also appears before court, either as an active (claimant), or a passive (defendant) party. In the latter case, it disputes the claims brought against it by other States, citizens or legal persons, namely in civil and administrative courts, as well as in fiscal tribunals.

Who has to represent the State in court?

According to the Constitution and the law, the representation of the State in court is considered to be the duty of the Public Prosecution Service.

Representation or advocacy?

The duty to represent the State is closely linked to the defence of the democratic principle of lawfulness which, according to the law, is also incumbent on the Public Prosecution Service to ensure. So, in this sense, it is not advocacy such as the one provided by a counsel, but truestatutory representation. The underlying reason is that, even in those cases, the Public Prosecution Service acts with objectivity, fairness and free of control and direction exercised by any particular body of the State apparatus. And we all wish the State’s interests to be thus represented in court.

In representing the State in court, the Public Prosecution Service represents all of us.

A success story?

The Public Prosecution Service representing the State has helped the latter achieve significant efficiency and cost saving improvements with this type of actions. Within the administrative jurisdiction, to give just an example, not only does this solution not entail any additional costs for the treasury, since the magistrates, who provide that representation, already perform their functions and are paid within the framework of that magistracy. They provide such representation, regardless of the value of the cases where they defend the public interest. But there are, moreover, significant success rates: In 2012, of the claims in tort brought against the State, whose total value amounted to EUR 501.702.029.60,171 reached a decision and in 142 of those cases (83 %) the decision was to consider them unfounded. The State was ordered to pay EUR 1.806.880.44 in total, a figure that represents only 0.36% of the amount claimed. A percentage which is 0.93 percentage points lower than in 2011 (1,29%) and 0.33 percentage points lower than in 2010 (0.69%).

(Source: Public Prosecution Service annual reports)