You are here:

Constitution of the Portuguese Republic


Article 20 (Access to law and effective judicial protection) (1) Everyone is guaranteed access to the law and the courts in order to defend those of his rights and interests that are protected by law, and justice may not be denied to anyone due to lack of sufficient financial means. (2) Subject to the terms of the law, everyone has the right to legal information and advice, to legal counsel and to be accompanied by a lawyer before any authority. (3) The law shall define and ensure adequate protection of the secrecy of legal proceedings. (4) Everyone has the right to secure a decision in any suit in which he is intervening, within a reasonable time limit and by means of fair process. (5) For the purpose of defending the personal rights, freedoms and guarantees and in such a way as to secure effective and timely judicial protection against threats thereto or breaches thereof, the law shall ensure citizens judicial proceedings that are characterised by their swiftness and by the attachment of priority to them. Article 29 (Application of criminal law) (1) No one may be sentenced under the criminal law unless the action or omission in question is punishable under a pre-existing law, nor may any person be the object of a security measure unless the prerequisites therefore are laid down by a pre-existing law. (2) The provisions of the previous paragraph do not preclude the punishment up to the limits laid down by internal Portuguese law of an action or omission which was deemed criminal under the general principles of international law that were commonly recognised at the moment of its commission. (3) No sentence or security measure may be applied unless it is expressly sanctioned by a pre-existing law. (4) No one may be the object of a sentence or security measure that is more severe than those provided for at the moment of the conduct in question, or at that at which the prerequisites for the application of such a measure were fulfilled, while criminal laws whose content is more favourable to the accused person shall be applied retroactively. (5) No one may be tried more than once for commission of the same crime. (6) Citizens who are unjustly convicted have the right to the review of their sentences and to compensation for the damages they have suffered, as laid down by law. Article 203 (Independence) The courts are independent and subject only to the law.