“ESTRATEGIA EMPRESARIAL”, echoes our almost 9 years of experience in the market

As a firm founded in 2015 in Bilbao, the publication highlights our multidisciplinary team of eight expert lawyers, valuing our comprehensive 360º legal advice. 

With a proven impact at national level acting from our four offices located in Bilbao, Cadiz, Madrid and Algeciras, with which we cover strategic areas for the transport and logistics sector, ESTRETAGIA EMPRESARIAL also highlights the fact that we have all kinds of collaborators at national and international level that help us to cover all the demands for advice and assistance that our clients may have anywhere in the world.

Likewise, the publication points out our commitment to disseminate all kinds of legislative and jurisprudential developments related to the logistics sector, both in terms of maritime law, transport law in general, insurance and national and international trade via our conferences, talks to clients or the two corporate websites: www.aiyon.es and shiparrestrelease.com.

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Notes to the Judgments of the CJEU and the High Court KBD of England on the Prestige Case

The English Court does not apply the doctrine of the CJEU which confirmed the possibility of recognising the Spanish conviction in the Prestige case in England.

The environmental tragedy of the M/T Prestige initiated a long-running legal dispute between the insurer of the M/T Prestige (The London Steam-Ship Owners’ Mutual Insurance Association Limited, hereinafter “the Club”) and Spain, through two different proceedings in two Member States at the time, the United Kingdom and Spain.

This article is based on Spain’s application to the UK courts in 2019 under Article 33 of “Regulation 44/2001 on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters” to recognise and enforce the Spanish court’s judgment. This decision was the Enforcement Order of 1 March 2019 of the Provincial Court of A Coruña enforcing its previous judgment, confirmed in cassation by the SC on 19 December 2018. It condemned the Master, the owners of the Prestige and the Club against the Spanish State and more than 200 other parties. As far as the Club was concerned, up to the contractual limit of USD 1 billion on the basis of the insurance policy.

The High Court of Justice Business and Property Courts of England and Wales Commercial Court (hereinafter High Court KBD) granted that application in May 2019, which was ultimately appealed by the Club on the basis of two main arguments under art. 34 of Regulation No 44/2001: (i) argument of incompatibility with the English judgment (ii) recognition of the Spanish judgment would be contrary to English public policy principles for violation of the res judicata rule.

At this procedural stage, the High Court KBD referred a question to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling, in relation to the interpretation of Regulation 44/2001, as to whether the recognition and enforcement in the UK of the sentence imposed in Spain could be refused, due to the existence in the UK of an award and a subsequent judgment upholding it, the effects of which were irreconcilable with the Spanish judgment.

The CJEU ruled on 20 June 2022 that a judgment given by a court of one Member State (UK) on the terms of an arbitral award cannot prevent the recognition, in that Member State, of a decision given by a court of another Member State (Spain), where provisions or objectives of Regulation 44/2001 have been contravened.

Therefore, the English courts had indeed to recognise and enforce the said Order of Enforcement of the AP de A Coruña, since the arbitration award on the terms of which the English judgment was rendered would have infringed certain provisions of Regulation No 44/2001, namely (i) the effect of the arbitration clause inserted in an insurance contract since, according to the CJEU’s own case law, an agreement conferring jurisdiction concluded between an insurer and a policyholder cannot bind the person injured by the insured damage and (ii) the rules of lis pendens since, when the arbitration award was entered into, the insured person cannot be bound by the arbitration award, an agreement conferring jurisdiction concluded between an insurer and a policyholder cannot bind the person injured by the insured damage and (ii) the rules of lis pendens since when the arbitration proceedings were brought in the UK (16 January 2012), proceedings between the Spanish State and the Club were already pending before the Spanish courts. Therefore, in accordance with Article 27 of Regulation 44/2001, the English courts should have suspended the proceedings ex officio until the Spanish courts had declared themselves to have jurisdiction and, if they did so, as was the case, they should have declined jurisdiction in favour of the Spanish courts.

Following the preliminary ruling, the High Court KBD decided on 06 October 2023 on the appeal lodged by the Club:

i). That they were irreconcilable judgments, given that the English judgment declared that under the “pay to be paid” clause, as the shipowners had not paid any amount, the Club was not liable to Spain and the Spanish judgment maintains that the Club is liable to Spain. These positions cannot coexist and therefore, both judgments are irreconcilable and thus, in accordance with art. 34 of Regulation 44/2001, the Spanish judgment can neither be recognised nor enforced in England.

ii). The English judgment in line with the arbitral award is res judicata and as Regulation 44/2001 excludes arbitration from its regulation, the existence of potentially inconsistent decisions and lack of coordination with future arbitral awards is assumed by the Regulation. Furthermore, it understood that since the Regulation does not apply to arbitration, the English court’s decision to ratify the arbitral award did not alter the provisions of the European Regulation.

It also considers that the CJEU, in its ruling on the question referred for a preliminary ruling, exceeded the scope of the questions referred for a preliminary ruling, and purported to apply the law to the facts, which is outside its competence (reserved to the Member States). Considering that the CJEU had exceeded its powers, the High Court KBD considered that it was not bound by its decision.

In conclusion, we must remember that the interpretation issued by the CJEU is binding on the court that asked the question for a preliminary ruling, which may not, under any circumstances, depart from it or ignore it, either on its own initiative or because it is instructed to do so by a hierarchically superior court, and that in the future, this interpretation of the CJEU will be the one that will be applied in the EU. However, the English judgment may be seen as opening a small door to legal uncertainty if it allows a Member State to unilaterally consider that the CJEU has exceeded its powers and that its decision is therefore not binding on it, without prejudice to any liability it may incur for breach of Community law.

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ASETRABI counts on its collaborator, AIYON Lawyers, to analyse safety and efficiency in road transport

On 30 October, the Bizkaia Transport Business Association, ASETRABI, held a conference on efficient driving and load stowage, with speakers including our partner in Bilbao, Zuberoa Elorriaga, as well as Andoni Gortazar, representing the Institute for Load Safety (ISEC), among other professionals from the land transport sector. This is an entity with which our firm also collaborates.

As part of the interesting training sessions that ASETRABI is holding this autumn in Bilbao, all of them of great interest due to the topics covered (loading and stowage, driving efficiency, decarbonisation, alternative fuels, etc.), on this occasion AIYON Abogados has been involved to explain to the participants of the event the complexity of the tasks and actions related to loading and stowage on lorries, all from a legal point of view.

For her part, Zuberoa tried to convey to the listeners the legal vision of stevedoring offered by the applicable international and national regulations, as well as the jurisprudential interpretation made by Spanish judges of the different regulations, always assessed on a case-by-case basis. This is because the extensive experience accumulated by our firm in more than eight years of activity always offers our lawyers a direct contact with the problems, as well as with each of our clients. This allows us to have a very close, as well as practical, view of the problems experienced in the road transport sector from all angles (shippers, receivers, carriers, insurance, etc.), which enables us to provide an appropriate and personalised solution in each of the consultancy services we offer.

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AIYON Abogados Moves to New Office in Algeciras

AIYON Abogados recently gathered in Algeciras part of its team of eight professionals from its offices in Madrid, Bilbao, Cadiz and Algeciras to inaugurate its new location in Algeciras and to share with its customers in the Algeciras enclave the good news that always comes with the opening of new facilities and the incorporation of a new professional to the team, as is the case of Rocío López.

Along with local lawyers Jose Antonio Domínguez and Rocío López, the event was attended by partners Mikel Garteiz-goxeaskoa and Zuberoa Elorriaga, from the Bilbao office; Madrid partner Verónica Meana; and partner and head of Cádiz, Enrique Ortiz, with his colleague Pablo Sánchez.

José Antonio Domínguez, director of the Algeciras office, frames these new developments in the firm’s commitment to improve the service provided to its clients in the area of influence of the Port of Algeciras, among which are shipowners, insurance companies, inland hauliers, forwarding agents, shipping agents, logistics operators, stevedores, shippers and, in general, all types of companies dedicated to international trade and the transport of goods.

“The strategic importance of Algeciras, where our clients have a very important presence, justifies the growth of our team and the improvement of our facilities,” says José Antonio Domínguez, partner in charge of the office.

Algeciras, a strategic location
As one of the most important ports in Spain and located on one of the strategic routes for international trade, the Port of Algeciras is key both for North-South traffic, with an abundant flow of goods to and from Morocco on the various ro-ro shipping lines operating in the Strait of Gibraltar, and for East-West traffic on the major containerised goods traffic routes, being an important hub port.

Algeciras is, on the other hand, a very important bunker or bunkering port in the Mediterranean, with shipyards and an anchorage where ships can make provisions or carry out repairs of all kinds.

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Practical Application of the Law on Late Payment in Land Transport (Law 13/2021)

The partial amendment of the Land Transport Law for the purpose of combating late payment in the field of road freight transport by application of the content of Law 13/2021, of 1 October, arose, among other reasons, from the need to solve the problem of late payment of commercial transactions in Spain, which amounts, let us remember, to an average of 90 days and is therefore in breach of the European regulations applicable to these transactions.

With effect from 3 October 2021 and on the general basis that any agreement on payment terms longer than 60 days can be considered null and void, even in companies belonging to the same group, this law creates a new type of offence providing for penalties for those cases in which the legal maximum payment limit is not respected and therefore does not comply with the provisions of Law 13/2021 (article 4) and the Land Transport Law (article 140).

Having said that, we can currently state that this regulation is already having tangible practical consequences, as in Aiyon we have had several consultations related to administrative sanctioning proceedings initiated by the General Directorate of Land Transport against road transport companies, in their capacity as subcontractors of land transport with other effective carriers.

Thus, following inspections carried out locally by the Administration in certain land transport companies, it has been observed that their contractors did not pay the invoices issued for their services within this 60-day period, which is why the inspection has initiated infringement proceedings against the debtors, warning them of this breach of the applicable regulations.

Administrative sanctioning proceedings which, although they can be defended, do not leave much room for refuting the position of the administrative inspector since, when this legal limit is exceeded within the different parameters for calculating the sixty days, little can be said in defence of the debtor’s position.

The fact that there is an agreement, express or implied, between the two carriers involved to relax this time limit upwards, or that there is a prior dispute between shipper and contract carrier that prevents the contract carrier from charging for the carriage, which could be considered a reason to condition the payment of its service to the actual carrier, we do not consider these to be valid excuses in law to justify the use of a longer payment period.

Once the accounts of a transport company have been randomly inspected, or after a complaint by the creditor, the Directorate General for Land Transport will notify those companies that have paid invoices outside the legal deadline of the initiation of the corresponding sanctioning procedure against them, proposing penalties which, in our experience, have ranged between € 2, 001.00 and € 3,000.00  (depending on different factors such as the excess over 60 days, the number of invoices pending payment, etc.), being classified as very serious offences under the Land Transport Law.

In view of the above, it is important to remind operators of the importance of respecting this regulation and of always regularising outstanding payments to road hauliers within the non-mandatory legal deadline (60 days), establishing internally adequate measures to avoid being sanctioned now or in the future.

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The Future of Air Cargo

Until now, the concept of air cargo has been understood as the transfer of goods by air using the different types of aircraft available on the market to transport goods from one point of origin to another destination.

But this vision must now expand and evolve as the imminent entry of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System), or what we colloquially call drones, into the commercial system becomes a reality.

Leaving aside the use of these systems for weapons and defence purposes, which in itself is a highly specialised world and there is much to analyse, we are interested in the commercial purposes sought by the development of drones and the impact they will have on the future of air cargo.

It is a fact that it is not easy to adapt national and international regulations to the great technological progress that is being experienced, but since 2017 the European Union has already begun to develop the so-called “U-space”, with impact in Spain from 2019 with projects led by ENAIRE, in order to urge a regulatory framework that will allow the management of UAS traffic in an automated and integrated manner with the management of manned aviation. All this to enable operations with unmanned aircraft in an orderly, fluid, safe and affordable manner.

A statement that is easy to make but difficult to execute, given that the “U-space” must be a safe and highly controlled (and certified) space in which the drones themselves, represented by their pilot; the service provider in that space that operates via the pilot; the provider of information services on the aircraft and its safety; the national control authorities; the security forces; and the general public as an interested party and recipient of any type of information will coexist; all of this, in addition to the traditional aviation itself, which we have known up to now as the “U-space”; the national control authorities; law enforcement agencies; and the general public as an interested party and recipient of any type of information; all of this, in addition to traditional passenger and cargo aviation itself, which we have known until now as the only one but which is considered “manned aviation”.

All this requires a “National Action Plan for the Deployment of U-space” (PANDU) in Spain, which is carried out through the coordinated action of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC), the State Aviation Safety Agency (AESA) and ENAIRE, in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence. Thus, by the end of 2023 or early 2024, it is expected to have a controlled space in which to operate drones. This is a very important challenge and, without a doubt, unstoppable.

The evolution in the world of transport is constant and, therefore, this new reality should not surprise us, but there are other factors that help and drive these changes, such as the EU’s goal of minimising emissions from all modes of transport (with very demanding challenges for operators) and optimising the performance of equipment and people.

Thus, the use of UAS is seen as an alternative to transporting certain loads with a positive environmental and resource impact.

A mere example of the new reality that is coming, and in which the world of shipping is affected, is the fact of performing the tasks of shipping consignment and provisioning of a vessel through the use of drones. Let’s say that a ship calls at the port of Vigo, which until now has required the assistance of one or two operations staff from the shipping agent contracted to attend to it, in addition to the rest of the suppliers. If the needs for the delivery of documentation or supplies could be met through the use of drones, it would be feasible to save personnel movements (with their components of contamination and use of resources and equipment), and direct contact would not even be necessary in some cases where there might be necessary isolation situations, such as those experienced during COVID.

This is just one example of a reality that will undoubtedly change the way we understand air cargo transport and, in the not-too-distant future, passenger transport. A small change that only heralds the great change that is coming and to which we will have to adapt.

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Pablo Sánchez joins the Aiyon Cádiz office

After the latest incorporation of the lawyer Rocío López to Aiyon Algeciras, who attends the local office together with the partner in charge of the same José Antonio Domínguez, our office now incorporates a new support member in the office of Aiyon Cádiz.

The specialized publication “El Canal Marítimo y Logístico” outlines that, having completed a prior training phase in collaboration with the rest of the firm’s team, and in full collaboration with the partner in charge of Cádiz, Enrique Ortiz, Pablo Sánchez is now a permanent part of Aiyon Abogados working as a lawyer from the Aiyon Cádiz office.

Cádiz and its port, with a strategic geographical location, reflects the relevance that the maritime and logistics sector in general have in the province. It is a fact that the Port of the Bay of Cádiz, in conjunction with the port of Algeciras, has positioned itself as the southern gate of Europe and the entrance to three continents.

Connected by land through road and rail access, and by air through the local airports of Jerez and Seville, the port infrastructures of the bay of Cádiz offer the best services and have include relevant companies linked to the logistics sector and maritime transport. In fact, Cádiz, together with Puerto Real and Puerto de Santa María, is home to four commercial docks, two fishing ports, as well as shipbuilding, off-shore and aeronautical repair and construction centers, and various nautical-sports complexes with great activity.

The offer is completed with a Customs-Free Zone, a Maritime Station for passengers and constant entry of cruise ships, a Border Inspection Post, a Traffic Control Center and an Integrated Communications Center, among other infrastructures and services.

That is why Cádiz has a large port community of which Aiyon Abogados has been a part for years, with a very active presence in associations such as Cádiz-Port, being part of the board our partner Enrique Ortiz, or Comport-Algeciras Port Community, among other.

The new member of the firm Aiyon Abogados SLP, Pablo Sánchez, is graduated in Law from the University of Cádiz – UCA (2014) and member of the Illustrious Bar Association of Cádiz. In addition, he holds a Master’s Degree in Maritime-Port Business Management and Maritime Law from the University of Deusto (2018) and the Master’s Degree in Access to the Legal Profession from the UCA (2016), being awarded the prize for the best file in the latter.

Pablo Sánchez completed an internship for six months in a law firm in Dublin (Ireland), where he came into contact with European immigration law and its extensive jurisprudence, in a turbulent period such as 2017 due to the uncertainty generated by Brexit. His first professional contact with the world of maritime-port companies was at the beginning of 2018 in Bilbao, where he did an internship in a freight forwarding company well established in that city, specifically in its maritime export department, which would later lead to two fruitful years of experience in it, thus knowing first-hand maritime export/import, with all the vicissitudes that these suppose at an operational level.

At Aiyon, Pablo Sánchez now develops his vocation as a maritime and transport lawyer, specializing in the management of insurance claims, administrative sanctioning procedures against ships, recoveries, labor relations of sea workers (SOLAS Convention) and land transport claims (CMR), among others, since the firm offers a “360º Service” without limiting itself to its areas of specialization (Shipping – Transport- Insurance – Trade), thus providing solutions to its clients in all areas and according to their needs.

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Automated Ports

Once again, the special edition of “Transporte XXI” on Ports of Spain, in this case in its April 2023 version, collaborated with our office by publishing the article “Automated Ports” prepared by our colleague from Bilbao, Irantzu Sedano.

Irantzu’s article shows how the continuous advances in technology are having a major influence on the automation of ships, as well as on the automation of the ports in which they work. It is a fact that autonomous navigation brings as a direct and main consequence the need for autonomous berths and moorings in ports, thus forcing ports to focus their efforts on this new reality that is getting closer and closer to us, and which undoubtedly cannot be ignored.

This is why most Spanish ports are already automated in many of their functions; in other words, they use advanced technologies to improve efficiency and productivity in their operations, be they loading and unloading, transport and storage of goods, access to the port, etc. Automation reduces operating costs, optimises space, improves the safety of operations, as well as it allows the handling of large volumes of cargo and the reduction of waiting times for ships and lorries in the port.

However, this scenario also poses many legislative challenges, which will have to be tackled prudently and tenaciously to ensure safe and sustainable development of this new maritime reality:

Much of the pre-existing regulation is not adequate to deal with issues related to port automation and needs to be updated or even new specific regulations developed. These include: (i) the pre-existing and traditional security regulations such as ISPS (International Ship and Port Facilities Security), which have been updated to take into account the risks of port and ship automation, cyber security and data protection, etc.; (ii) the IMO recommendations; (iii) ISO standards establishing a framework for information security management; (iv) SAE J3016 standards relating to vehicle automation levels, which have been adapted for use on ships; (v) SNAME (Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers) guidelines.

The development of a legal framework should define the liability regime in case of accidents or damage in the context of autonomous systems.

Privacy and data protection regulation is required, in terms of respect for privacy rights and protection of shared personal data.

Modernisation and adaptation of existing workplaces must take place. Automation will undoubtedly reduce the need for human intervention, and it will be necessary to regulate the retraining and relocation of workers whose functions have been automated. Therefore, automation and robotisation will have to coexist with the human factor, provided that adequate measures are put in place to ensure safety, redistribution of tasks and adaptation of the workforce.

The cybersecurity of operations will have to be guaranteed by establishing regulations to always ensure the security of autonomous systems and data protection. It is a reality that malware attacks on automated maritime infrastructures have increased due to this new way of working that has been implemented.

Not only will all operators and competent authorities have to implement state-of-the-art security protocols and systems, but the cyber insurance phenomenon will have to coexist with this new reality, as at the end of the day this will be the only way to transfer the risk of possible cyber security incidents to a third party that will cover us for this eventuality.

In conclusion, as has been the case so far, but now even more so, it will be important that national and international regulatory authorities, the maritime and port industry, and the other actors in the sector, work together to develop an updated legal and regulatory framework adapted to the new realities of the port sector and maritime navigation.

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AIYON Abogados participates in the Special Supplement on Transport and Logistics of El Correo

On the occasion of the celebration of the “Empack and Logistics & Automotion” trade fair, which will take place at the Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC) in Bilbao on 1 and 2 March 2023, the newspaper El Correo has prepared a special on Transport and Logistics with the collaboration of our firm.

AIYON has prepared the article “Why is adequate legal advice necessary for transport companies“, which aims to explain the need for the legal advisor to take an active part not only in the dispute resolution phases or claims that clients may require, but also in the previous phases of consultation, advice or processing. In any case, accompanying the operators in the logistics chain in an active and participative manner, trying to avoid possible setbacks in the development of their work, or to tackle problems, optimising their work as much as possible.

This collaboration is also accompanied by the participation as moderator of our partner from Bilbao, Zuberoa Elorriaga in the round table organised by the Basque Institute of Logistics and Sustainable Mobility (IVL/LEE) for the 2nd of March under the title “Present and Future of Land Freight Transport in the Basque Country”, in which Zuberoa will share space with professionals such as Sonia García – President of ASETRABI, Almudena Palomera – Manager Director at TUBACEX, Iñaki Cepeda – Manager of the GUITRANS Foundation, Inmaculada Ugarteche – Director of UNIPORT and Antonio Jaraices – Director of Organisation, Communication and Corporate Strategy at EUSKOTREN.

AIYON Abogados collaborates with ISDE

The ISDE Law Business School has been collaborating this year with AIYON Abogados in teaching the classes on Land Transport and Maritime Transport included in its postgraduate course offered under the title “Master in Business Law, Arbitration and ADR”.

Our partner in Madrid, Verónica Meana, was in charge of the asynchronous classes on Land and Maritime Transport and will soon be giving the in-person class on Maritime Transport, while our partners Enrique Ortiz (Cadiz) and José Domínguez (Algeciras) gave a lesson on Land Transport and Payment Methods, respectively.

This collaboration has given AIYON a new opportunity to take part in the learning process of new generations of professionals who will surely enrich the sector.

We would like to thank ISDE for this opportunity, which we hope will be the first of many.