The annual report of the Síndic de Greuges for 2022, recently presented before the Valencian Courts, has publicly denounced a violation of legality by the Generalitat Valenciana, provincial councils and town halls: the administration cannot require citizens to make a mandatory appointment if they want to be assisted in person by an official at the customer service offices.
In Spain, Law 39/2015, of October 1, on the Common Administrative Procedure of Public Administrations, establishes the norms that govern the activity of the public administration, submitting all the actions of the public administration to the principles of legality, effectiveness, efficiency, transparency, good faith and service to citizens.
One of the most important aspects of the aforementioned Law 39/2015 is the regulation of citizen care and access to public services. In the administration, a practice has been observed that, although very widespread, is sometimes of dubious legality: the requirement of a prior appointment to carry out certain procedures or procedures without motivation.
There is no regulation that expressly prohibits the requirement of a prior appointment in the Spanish Public Administration, since it may be necessary to guarantee efficient and personalized attention to citizens. However, the prior appointment requirement must comply with certain legal requirements to guarantee equal access to public services and not incur in discrimination or unjustified limitations. These requirements are the following:
- The prior appointment must be a voluntary option for citizens, since they have the right to be attended in person without having to previously make an appointment. In the event that a prior appointment is mandatory, the reasons justifying this requirement must be established and it must be guaranteed that citizens have the necessary means to request it.
- Secondly, the Public Administration must guarantee that citizens can request an appointment in a simple and accessible way, through electronic or face-to-face means, and that they are clearly informed of the requirements and conditions for their request.
- The prior appointment must be managed efficiently and transparently, guaranteeing equal treatment of citizens and avoiding situations of discrimination based on gender, origin, sexual orientation or other reasons.
- Fourthly, the Public Administration must guarantee the protection of the personal data of citizens within the framework of the management of the prior appointment and of the information systems that are used for this purpose, complying with the obligations established by the regulations of personal data protection.
Specifically, the aforementioned Law 39/2015, of October 1, establishes, in its article 16.1 that Interested parties may appear and present documents in the registry of any administrative body, which must admit them and issue a receipt accrediting the presentation.“. Therefore, any citizen should have the right to present documents or applications in any public registry without the need to request a prior appointment.
However, many public administrations have established prior appointment systems for certain procedures, such as ID renewal, registration in the municipal register or requesting certain aid or subsidies, which can be considered a violation of the right to guardianship. effective court. In addition, these systems are usually managed by external companies that charge a commission for booking the appointment, which means an extra cost for the citizen.
Furthermore, the lack of availability of appointments within a reasonable time can also be considered a violation of the right to effective judicial protection, since it prevents access to public services in a timely manner. In both cases, a complaint or appeal can be filed with the competent authority.
The illegality of this practice has been confirmed by different courts, which have indicated that the requirement of a prior appointment without motivation violates the right of citizens to interact with public administrations on an equal footing and represents a barrier to accessing certain public services. , in addition to a probable unnecessary economic extra cost.
Legal Department Carrau Corporation