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Measures Taken by the Panamanian Supreme Court as a Result of COVID-19

Pursuant to the formal declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the Republic of Panama, via Orders No. 146 of March 13, 2020 and No. 147 of March 16, 2020, the Panamanian Supreme Court adopted preventive measures, including the countrywide suspension -for a two-weeks period which may be extended-, of the judicial terms and statutes of limitations beginning Monday, March 16, 2020.

Subsequently, via  Order No. 158 of March 19, 2020 the Supreme Court agreed to extend the suspension of terms from Monday, March 16 to Thursday, April 9, and ordered, furthermore, the suspension of work in judicial and administrative offices, from Monday, March 23, 2020 to Thursday, April 9, 2020.

Except for:

  • Judicial Offices, Magistrates and Judges of the Accusatorial Criminal Justice System;
  • Lower or appeals courts that must hear Habeas Corpus and Constitutional Guarantee appeals;
  • Children and Adolescents Courts, Juvenile and Family Courts;
  • The Second Superior Court of the First Judicial District and the Superior Courts of the other Judicial Districts of the country.

It is worth noting that pursuant to Order  No. 158 of March 19, 2020, issued by the Supreme Court, the public service of Administration of Justice has not been interrupted and it continues to receive filings of petitions filed by users of the system, especially regarding fundamental rights and guarantees.

Via Order No. 159 of April 6, 2020 the Supreme Court agreed to extend the suspension of the judicial terms, starting on Saturday, April 11 and ending on Thursday, April 30 2020, maintaining, practically in every respect, the rest of the prior orders adopted in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

More recently, via Order N° 160 of April 30, 2020, the suspension of judicial terms is extended, until May 17, 2020, and also remained the decisions adopted through Orders 146 and 147 of March 13, 2020, order 158 of March 19, 2020, and order 159 of April 6, 2020.

Additionally, via order N°161 of April 30, 2020, the Supreme Court of Justice issued measurements for the transition and reorganization of the judicial, administrative and public defense offices in which agreed that as of May 11, 2020, all heads and employees of the offices, mentioned above, must return to their workplace and establish the necessary measurements and actions to reorganize their offices.

The aforementioned Orders must be considered in conjunction with the provisions of the Judicial Code regarding which govern rescheduling of court proceedings due to a suspension or closure of judicial offices, such as the one decreed by the Supreme Court, such as:

Article 509

When a proceeding or act cannot be carried out on the designated date due to the suspension of operations or of the term thereof, such proceeding shall be carried out on the following business day at the same time as previously indicated, without need for a new resolution.

Article 512

Judicial terms are suspended for all ongoing proceedings on the days when, for any reason, Courts are not operating, including public holidays and days of national mourning.

Article 528

If the closing of public offices is decreed at any time of the day, the whole day shall be considered as a non-working day. However, any actions and steps taken prior to the closing of the office shall be considered valid.

Article 529

If the closing is decreed on a day that is a business day according to the Law, the Secretary will announce it by posting notice in a visible place of the Court.”

In light of the above and the fact that our court system is facing a totally exceptional situation, we urge you to contact the attorney at our firm who usually assists you, in order to analyze or discuss the status of any particular case you may be involved in so we can make the relevant recommendations.

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