Are Lawyer-to-Lawyer Emails Admissible as Evidence in a Spanish Court?
In a recent ruling, the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) has acknowledged that private emails exchanged between two lawyers can be considered valid evidence in a trial, as long as they do not violate any fundamental rights.
This decision comes in response to a case involving an employee who was dismissed from Newman Security SL. Upon receiving the news, she filed two lawsuits: one for wrongful termination and another to claim unpaid overtime totaling over 9,000.-Euros. The attorneys on both sides engaged in negotiations via email to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. The defenses agreed to a 13,000.-Euros compensation for wrongful termination, with the condition that the employee would waive her claim for unpaid overtime.
Once the agreement was finalized, the company transferred the agreed-upon amount to the employee. However, she failed to send a document confirming her renunciation of the unpaid overtime. Subsequently, the company's lawyer used the email exchange where both parties had signed the extrajudicial agreement as evidence in court, alleging that the opposing party had not fulfilled the agreed-upon terms.
The Spanish Code of Ethics for Lawyers prohibits attorneys from submitting to courts or clients any information shared with another lawyer unless they have the authorization of both the other lawyer and the bar association.
Nevertheless, the TSJM relies on the doctrine of the Constitutional Court, which approves the use of documents exchanged between lawyers when the defense of the client is at stake, even if it initially involves private conversations protected by legal confidentiality and the ethical code of lawyers.
Therefore, it concludes that email correspondence is a "useful, necessary, and relevant" form of evidence and only prohibits evidence that may violate fundamental rights, such as the right to a defense in this particular judgment.
The Madrid court ruled in favor of admitting lawyer-to-lawyer emails as evidence for the defense in the case but left room for potential disciplinary sanctions, stating, "without prejudice to its effects regarding the violation of ethical requirements of the profession."