The General Council of the Judiciary is in the process of rolling out Transparency Portals in the High Courts of Justice of the 17 autonomous communities. This initiative is being undertaken in accordance with the Bill of Citizens’ Rights to Justice, which was unanimously passed by the Working Group of the Monitoring Committee of the Government Pact for the Reform of the Justice System signed on 28 May, 2001 – representatives from the various parliamentary groups and the Ministry of Justice were involved in its adoption.
Over the past 30 years, surveillance and inspection of industrial activity in Portugal has been mainly absent. The concrete enforcement of industrial regulation is a joint responsibility of the State and the Municipalities and their cooperation has not always been exemplary. With the growth of administrative regulation, particularly as a consequence of European law, several companies found themselves operating in an irregular manner and never rectified the situation.
The final text of the General Law on Labour in Civil Services (LTFP) was published in the Portuguese Official Gazette on 20 June 2014. This law encompasses the essential elements of the labour regime for public sector employees, which up until now had been regulated in ten different legal texts, expressly revoked. The LTFP is the result of the longstanding goal of providing the Portuguese Public Administration with a legal text that gathered, in a systematic, organised and technically accurate way, the fundamentals of the labour regime of its employees. This preoccupation with systematisation and accuracy is evident. The LTFP covers, in 406 articles, all the issues previously foreseen in over 1200 articles, scattered among the aforementioned ten legal texts.
Portugal’s Audit Court (Tribunal de Contas) is an independent body that supervises public accounts and expenditure and prosecutes public financial violations. The Court, among other things, issues opinions on public annual accounts and controls expenses arising from decisions or contracts entered into by public entities. It assumes an important (and sometimes decisive) role in public procurement – works, services or supply exceeding €350,000 require prior clearance (visto) of the Audit Court in order to be effective financially. Public contracting entities do not however necessarily need to wait for the clearance to initiate the performance of the contracts. In fact, the private contracting party is usually required to carry out the supply, the provision of services or initiate the construction before the Court issues a decision on the clearance procedure.
A number of recent decisions by the Portuguese Audit Court (Tribunal de Contas – TdC) have had a significant impact on concession holders’ and award bid winners’ ability to renegotiate or revisit the terms of the contracts entered into with the Portuguese State. The result is that new factors need to be considered by those bidding for Portuguese concession or public works projects.