Sunday, September 9, 2012

Who cares about the truth: Spain’s messed up legal system

We were talking to a lawyer the other day, and he mentioned a surprising fact about the Spanish legal system. In Spain, there is generally no obligation for witnesses to actually tell the truth about anything.

So if you get involved in a legal case here, prepare for your opposition to start calling one lying witness after another, with no consequences to themselves or others (other than the fact that the judge might be less inclined to believe them in the future if you can prove that they aren’t telling the truth).

This is especially important in labor cases, where employers are almost completely unprotected by the law. Your ex-employee can spin any tales they want about the evilness of the employer, which even if it is found to be mostly untrue, can still put you in serious jeopardy. The court will generally find in favor of the employee no matter what. After hearing about some of the cases in this area, I almost wonder why anyone would hire anyone in Spain.

A special caution to anyone thinking of hiring an illegal immigrant: they are just as protected by law as anyone else, and they will make up a sob story of worker exploitation and exercise every legal right they have to make your life miserable if you fire them (there are many associations that will even provide free lawyers for them). Since the recent changes in the law, this can even theoretically include jail time for not having insurance for your worker. Although doing the alta in social security and a real contract is a pain in the butt, it is nothing compared to what can and will happen if you don’t.

I’d also suggest putting a up a couple of IP enabled cameras (eg Foscam FI8918) and recording everything. Trust but verify.

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