SS&D: “The maritime shipping law will bring needed legal certainty to our national law”

Spain’s Parliamentary Justice Commission approved the draft bill of a new maritime shipping law, which will now be sent to the Senate.

For San Simón & Duch, lawyers specialising in maritime law, this new law will mean an end to 125 years of Volume III of the Commercial Code, the highly technical, comprehensive text that is currently the main legislation governing Spanish maritime law, despite the fact that it is notably out of date.

The new law will give Spain a modern, general maritime legal regime, something that the sector had been waiting for, and which, after a lengthy period, it can now celebrate.

One of the aims of the new law, amongst others, is to tie Spain’s national maritime law to both International Conventions and the European Union rules that apply to shipping, in order to put an end to existing contradictions between national law and International Conventions in force in Spain, which will provide necessary legal certainty.

This new maritime shipping law will make Spain the only country in the world to have nearly the entirety of its maritime law regulated by one statute.

While it is possible that the new law has little practical application, with International Conventions continuing to be used, the new law will be highly useful both in internal Spanish cases and in helping to interpret cases where international law applies. It will also help open up Spain to maritime claims with exclusive jurisdiction clauses.

During the law’s passage through Parliament the large number of amendments proposed by various political parties focused on three basic questions:

  • Resolving the traditional struggle in the sector between freight forwarders and agents as to who is responsible for damage to cargo
  •  Limiting responsibility for Classification Societies
  •  The extent of jurisdiction for disputes with international aspects