Español Jurídico: What is competencia funcional ?

Legal Spanish for Translators

Competencia funcional has sometimes been rendered as “appellate jurisdiction,” and this may be correct in many contexts. However it should be noted that this definition is incomplete and may prompt a miscue or result in a mistranslation, since competencia funcional is actually a much broader concept, denoting the court of competent jurisdiction in each step in a legal proceeding, and not only at the appellate stage. Thus competencia funcional may refer not only to a court’s jurisdiction to hear appeals arising from a specific case (i.e., its “appellate jurisdiction”), but also to its jurisdiction to hear interlocutory motions (incidentes procesales) and enforcement proceedings (ejecución de sentencias). As explained in Thompson-Aranzadi’s Diccionario Jurídico,* “las normas de competencia funcional determinan qué juez o tribunal conocerá de los incidentes que se susciten en el proceso, de los recursos que se interpongan contra las sentencias y de la eventual ejecución de esas sentencias.”

*Juan Manuel Fernández Martínez, Coord. Diccionario Jurídico. Cizur Menor (Navarra): Thompson-Aranzadi, 2004.

2 thoughts on “Español Jurídico: What is competencia funcional ?

  1. Rebecca,
    I don’t think we have in Mexico an exact equivalent concept of “competencia funcional por conexión” as the heading of Article 61 reads. We would talk about “tribunales competentes” (courts of competent jurisdiction) based on the jurisdiction assigned by law to each court. Also, it is interesting to realize how the wording of our respective laws differ, as Article 63 talks about “falta de jurisdicción”, while we would talk about “tribunal incompetente”. As always, I find your comments very illustrative.


    • Hi Javier,
      Thanks for your comment. The expression “tribunal (or) juez incompetente” is likewise used in Spain. When I have a chance, I will write an entry on different uses of “jurisdicción” and “competencia.” Saludos desde Madrid,


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