Abandonment of Recreational Craft

The abandonment of recreational boats is a real and tangible phenomenon that occurs more frequently than one might think, with very negative and, generally, costly consequences.

What is more, the marina concessionary company with which the mooring is contracted, or the dry marina, are generally the parties that suffer the most, as they act as the depository of the boats. The consequences of this problem are accentuated when the shipowners are not citizens of the country where their boats are berthed.

There are currently hundreds of abandoned boats in different marinas in the country, a problem that increases significantly when the economy is truncated by periodic crises. And this is because, beyond the fact that the personal economic situation of a shipowner can be affected at any given time, sometimes even drastically, we must add other ancillary issues to this, such as the relentless increase in the price of fuel, the cost of revisions and inspections, the increase in the regulatory requirements on navigation elements, the periodic increase in the price of maritime taxes, etc. All of which makes it impossible for many yacht owners to take care of their boats, and they are forced to abandon them without even the slightest explanation.

Despite the above, there is hardly any specific legal regulation of this phenomenon, although it is expected that this situation will change soon.

Article 302 of Royal Legislative Decree 2/2011, of 5 September, which approves the Revised Text of the Law on State Ports and the Merchant Navy, states that when we talk about abandoned ships, we are referring to vessels that have remained for more than three months moored, anchored, or even on land, in the same place within the same port, and without having any type of externally appreciable activity on board. Abandoned ships which, in order to be catalogued and declared as such by the competent Port Authority, must also have failed to pay their corresponding fees and tariffs for at least three months.

After processing the corresponding procedure, and once the ship has been declared abandoned by the Port Authority, the latter will proceed: (i) either to its sale at public auction, paying the proceeds of the sale after subtracting the credits accrued in its favour for port taxes/fees and the costs of the procedure; (ii) or, to the sinking of the ship when, due to its condition, maritime safety reasons make it advisable to do so.

However, in this article we are referring to vessels abandoned in a port that is not a port of general interest, with indirect management by the administration as these are ports under concession. Consequently, the port authorities of the main port to which the concessioned port is attached are often opposed to initiating the administrative procedures for abandonment of vessels under Article 302 on the grounds, among others, that the procedure for abandonment of vessels is only applicable to vessels which are moored or anchored in a port under the direct management of the authority; that they cannot rule on the abandonment of a vessel when there is a contractual relationship between the concession holder and the owner of the vessel; or that the administrative procedure for the abandonment of vessels is only applicable to recover debts owed by the vessel to the port authorities (fees, tariffs, etc.) and not those owed to the concession holder in the context of a private contract.

In view of this, in the absence of a specific regulation in this respect to date, in the face of the “disappearance” of the yacht owner and the consequent non-payment of the services he has contracted, the current option available to marinas or suppliers to deal with these incidents is to initiate legal proceedings for breach of contract and claim for payment against the person who contracted the unpaid services (art.1124 of the Civil Code). This would be done either with the intervention of the shipowner in the process or in default, in case the shipowner does not comply with the injunction.

If the shipowner does not meet his obligations voluntarily once the marina/concessionary company obtains a favourable court ruling, the latter will have to initiate a second legal process to request the forced execution of the sentence in which it would have the option of seizing the vessel in order to promote its subsequent auction and public sale. With the sum obtained from this sale, and after payment of the debts incurred in the management of the auction, the rest of the debts existing up to that moment, including that of the port, would be settled. Another option could be for the concessionary company itself to be awarded the vessel, being able to dispose of it as it sees fit.

As instrumental measures to such a declaratory process, there would be two other legal options to be studied in each case:

  • Exercise the right of retention of the vessel in the hands of the concessionaire by instituting a declaratory judgment (art. 1780 of the Civil Code).
  • On the basis that the service contracting party is the registered owner of the vessel, proceed to the preventive seizure of the vessel by filing the measure before the competent court (art. 470 of the Maritime Navigation Act).

For the time being, this lack of regulation by state regulations has led some of the most affected autonomous communities, such as Valencia and the Balearic Islands, to publish their own specific regulations with the aim of speeding up and avoiding the serious problems of indebtedness and deterioration that vessels immobilised in port present, with the danger of pollution or that of navigation itself due to not being properly guarded or maintained.

This situation will hopefully change soon since, as announced on 1 March 2022, the amendment of the revised text of the Law on State Ports and the Merchant Navy and the Law on Maritime Navigation has been approved to bring it into line with current European regulations and, among other points, recreational boating activity will be dealt with and regulated in more detail. In fact, it is expected that the Maritime Navigation Law will add a new Chapter VII to the current Title X that specifically regulates the abandonment of recreational craft.

We can conclude, therefore, that currently the ways of managing abandonment situations are limited and costly, or are only regulated locally, so that in any case we advise seeking prior legal advice from a law firm specialised in the matter so that they can duly assist the affected parties.

Read article published here.

Enrique Ortiz and José Antonio Domínguez participate in the “Master in Business Legal Consultancy” of the University of Cadiz

We would like to thank the University of Cadiz for their warm welcome to our partners of Aiyon Cadiz and Aiyon Algeciras, who had the honour of being part of the teaching staff of the “Master in Legal Business Consultancy (MAJE)” organized by the Faculty of Law of the University of Cadiz and the University Business Foundation of the province of Cadiz (FUECA).

A Master’s Degree that offers its students the opportunity to broaden and deepen their legal and accounting knowledge in the business world, from a comprehensive, up-to-date and practical perspective, so that they can plan their professional career in the specific field of legal-business advice, and which is taught by renowned professionals with extensive experience in legal-business advice, both from the University itself and from the private sector.

In their classes, our colleagues, Enrique Ortiz and José Antonio Domínguez, have worked with the students on two subjects of great relevance in the field of international trade, such as the international transport contract and insurance in the international market. All this within the rest of the subjects that made up the module entitled “International Dimension of the Company” of which they have been part.

Likewise, Enrique and José have shared with the attendees their long and extensive professional experience, acquired during the many years they have been active in managing matters for all types of clients related to the transport, insurance, and international trade sector, commenting on practical cases and common situations in their day-to-day work in AIYON Abogados.

We are sure that these new generations of professionals will be very well received, and we wish good luck to all of them!

Aiyon Collaborates Again with the Spanish Maritime Institute and the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas in the Master’s Degree in Maritime Business and Law

On 26 May 2022, our partners Verónica Meana and Mikel Garteiz-Goxeaskoa have taught one more year the class on “Removal of wreck and Nairobi Convention 2007” and “HNS Convention 2010”.

This is the fifth consecutive year that our colleagues are part of the faculty of the Master’s Degree in Business and Maritime Law of the Spanish Maritime Institute in collaboration with the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, sharing their theoretical and practical knowledge on matters affecting the maritime transport sector.

In this case, the subject dealt with was “Liability and compensation for damage caused by harmful and potentially hazardous substances during maritime transport”, which affects both operators in the sector and public administrations, both nationally and internationally.

As always, we enjoyed giving the class and hope that the students found it useful and interesting.

Is the Detention of Russian Mega Yachts Legal?

On 24 February 2022, Russia begins its invasion of Ukraine, provoking an immediate reaction from the European Union and the United States, condemning the action and announcing sanctions. Among the sanctions adopted by the EU is the freezing of assets belonging to Russian oligarchs who participate or have participated in the war against Ukraine. European countries immediately began to immobilise assets located in their territories.

In the case of Spain, the arrests of several mega yachts of more than 24 metres in length, such as the “Valerie”, located in Barcelona, and the “Lady Anastasia”, docked in Palma de Mallorca, have been striking. The question is, on what instrument is Spain basing these detentions?

AIYON analysed the situation in an article that was published by the newspapers ABC Sevilla and ABC Madrid last April, which we recommend reading.

Read article published here.

Royal Decree-Law 3/2022 on measures for the improvement of road freight transport

In recent months, fuel prices have risen sharply following the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is having serious consequences for the transport sector, among others.

Royal Decree-Law 3/2022 of 1 March was enacted to mitigate the effects of this rise, to ensure the sustainability of the road freight transport sector, whose structure makes it more difficult to adapt to unfavourable scenarios, and to combat unfair competition from “letterbox companies” that operate de facto outside their States of establishment.

Among the measures included in this Royal Decree-Law applicable to land transport are the following:

 

1.- Mandatory transport price review subject to fuel price variation

RDL 3/2022 amends article 38 of Law 15/2009, of 11 November, on the Land Transport of Goods Contract (“LCTTM”) relating to the revision of the price of road transport in accordance with the variation in the price of diesel fuel. In accordance with the new wording of the aforementioned article 38:

It is compulsory to revise the price of the transport contract in line with the variation in the price of fuel, either by an increase or a reduction in the price of fuel. Any agreement to the contrary shall be considered null and void.

This duty to review applies to all transport contracts, whether verbal or in writing, whether they relate to the performance of a single journey or to continuous contracts. In the case of single-trip transport, the review shall apply if the price of fuel has changed between the day of conclusion of the contract and the time of transport. In the case of continuous contracts, which will be more affected by this measure, increases or reductions shall be applied on a quarterly basis in relation to the initially agreed price, being possible to agree on a shorter period, but under no circumstances a longer one.

The review of the price of transport will be conditional on the price of fuel having undergone a variation of more than 5%, although the parties may agree on a lower threshold.

Only one revision formula can be applied, and it will be the same for all transport contracts. In other words, it is not possible for the carrier and its customer to agree on another formula. This formula is established in article 3.4 of the Ministerial Order FOM/1882/2012 of 1 August, which approves the general contracting conditions for the transport of goods by road. The formula depends on both the variation in the price of fuel and the maximum mass of the vehicle and applies a coefficient to the percentage variation in the price of fuel.

In continuous transport contracts entered into prior to the Royal Decree-Law, these revisions shall be made:

a) If the contract includes different review formulas, these formulas must be updated to the one set by the Administration within a maximum period of 6 months from the entry into force of the Royal Decree-Law.

b) For those contracts that do not include a price revision clause due to variations in the price of diesel, it shall be compulsory to revise the price of those transports carried out after the entry into force, considering the variation in the price of fuel in the last 12 months.

The variation in the price of fuel shall be reflected in the invoice in an itemised manner, unless another way of reflecting the adjustment is agreed with the client.

 

2.- Regulation of goods loading and unloading operations

Taking up a historical demand of the transport associations, the Royal Decree-Law introduces an amendment to the thirteenth additional provision of Law 16/1987, of 30 July 1987, on the Regulation of Land Transport (“LOTT”) prohibiting drivers of goods transport vehicles of more than 7.5 tons. of MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass), whether they are self-employed or salaried, to participate in loading and unloading operations carried out in Spanish territory of goods or their supports, packaging, containers or crates, except in the following cases:

(a) Transport of removals and furniture storage.

(b) Carriage in tank vehicles.

(c) Carriage of aggregates or carriage in tipper vehicles or vehicles fitted with a crane or other devices inherent to the vehicle for the purpose of loading and unloading.

(d) Carriage in vehicle carriers and roadside assistance cranes.

(e) Carriage of break-bulk, parcels and any other similar carriage

(f) Carriage of live animals.

(g) Cases in which the regulations governing certain types of carriage specifically provide otherwise in relation to the participation of the driver.

(h) Those cases established by regulation, provided that the safety of the driver is guaranteed.

This ban also applies to drivers of foreign transport companies operating in Spain.

Unlike the rest of the Royal Decree-Law, the entry into force of this ban will take place on 2 September 2022, so that loading and unloading centres can prepare themselves.

In relation to the above, the Royal Decree-Law amends article 20 of the Land Transport of Goods Contract. The new wording stipulates that loading and unloading will be for the account of the shipper and the consignee unless, prior to the actual presentation of the vehicle for loading, it has been agreed in writing that these operations will be carried out by the carrier against payment of a supplement to the price of the transport. This agreed consideration must be shown on the invoice separately from the carriage. As regards the stowage and unstowage of the goods on board the vehicles, these will be the responsibility of the shipper and the consignee respectively, unless they are expressly assumed by the carrier.

In the event that the parties agree in writing that the carrier will carry out the loading and unloading operations, and except in the case of one of the aforementioned specialities, a person other than the driver will have to carry out these tasks.

 

3.- Regulation of stoppages

The Royal Decree-Law also modifies article 22 of the Land Transport of Goods Contract on stoppages and reduces from two hours to one hour the period of time that a vehicle must wait for loading or unloading to be completed from the time it is made available under the terms of the contract.

The stoppage of the vehicle for reasons not attributable to the carrier, including loading and unloading operations, shall give rise to compensation equivalent to the Public Indicator of Multiple Effect Incomes (“IPREM”) per day multiplied by 2 for each hour or fraction thereof, with a maximum of 10 hours per day. If the stoppage is longer than one day, this amount shall be increased by 25% for the second day and by 50% over the amount indicated for the first day for the following days of stoppages.

The parties, however, may agree on a higher amount.

This amount shall also be used to assess the compensation to the carrier when the vehicle is paralysed due to an accident or breakdown for which the carrier is not responsible.

 

4.- Other amendments affecting transport companies and employees

Royal Decree-Law 3/2022 also introduces an amendment to Law 45/1999 of 29 November 1999, on the posting of workers in the framework of a transnational provision of services in road transport, imposing an obligation of communication in the case of the posting of drivers who are employees. This communication will be made by means of the form of the public interface connected to the Internal Market Information System (“IMI”) established in Regulation (EU) 1024/2012.

Finally, the Royal Decree-Law extends the system of penalties contained in Articles 140, 141 and 143 of the Regulation of Land Transport.

Aiyon Abogados collaborates with Chambers in the shipping law 2022 Global Practice Guide

Our partners Verónica Meana, Mikel Garteiz-goxeaskoa, Jose Domínguez and Enrique Ortiz  have collaborated, once again, in the section dedicated to Spanish Law of the Shipping 2022 Global Practice Guide published by Chambers. This publication focusses on practical legal issues affecting shipping in 26 key jurisdictions.

The guide provides information on marine casualties, Owners’ liability, cargo claims, maritime liens, ship arrests, Shipowners’ income tax relief, choice of Jurisdiction and Law agreements, Port State Control matters and in particular the implementation of IMO 2020 on sulphur content of fuel oil, and the implications of Covid-19, among other issues.

Read the AIYON Abogados contribution by clicking on the following link.

“Estrategia Empresarial” Stresse out our Consolidation in the Field of Aviation and Space Law

We have had the pleasure of receiving “Estrategia Empresarial” in our Bilbao office, a prestigious publication that has been interested in getting to know in depth our activity, our team and our long professional trajectory as legal professionals. They were also interested in interviewing our partner, Zuberoa Elorriaga, in view of her recent qualification as a specialist in Aviation and Space Law, after completing the postgraduate course given by Icade University in collaboration with the Spanish Association of Aeronautics and Space Law (Aedae).

As our partner in Bilbao has rightly stated, at AIYON “we represent and protect the interests of individuals and companies immersed in a particularly complex, dynamic and multidisciplinary framework, which presents all kinds of issues affecting companies, operators, entities or individuals from all perspectives, bearing in mind that the ultimate goal is to comfort our clients by providing the most appropriate response to their query or the most beneficial solution to their problem”.

Read the full article

Royal Decree 128/2022 of 15 February on Port Reception Facilities for Ship Waste

As a consequence of the transposition of Directive (EU) 2019/883 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on port reception facilities for ship waste discharge, amending Directive 2010/65/EU and repealing Directive 2000/59/EC, Royal Decree 128/2022 of 15 February 2022 on Port Reception Facilities for Ship Waste was published on 16 February 2022.

The purpose of the aforementioned legal text is none other than to guarantee the protection of the marine environment from all those negative effects that might be caused by waste generated by ships and cargo residues from ships using Spanish ports. It also aims to ensure the proper functioning of maritime traffic, improving the availability and use of adequate port reception facilities, as well as the delivery of waste to these facilities.

The extension of the scope of application of this Royal Decree is one of the main innovations that it brings with it, as it now includes fishing vessels and sport or recreational vessels. Thus, this regulation will be applicable to all vessels, regardless of their flag, which call at or operate in Spanish ports, except those which are used to provide port services and State vessels. Likewise, in order to avoid unnecessary delays, in anchorages where the vessel does not carry out commercial operations of embarking and disembarking passengers or loading and unloading goods, provided that the call at anchorage is less than seven days, the obligation to discharge ship waste and pay the indirect tariff is exempted.

Another of the main updates is the application of this RD to waste caught unintentionally by fishing vessels, other unintentional catches, facilitating their collection at port waste-reception facilities free of charge; and the regulation of electronic communications through the SafeseaNetsystem, as established in Royal Decree 210/2004, of 6 February, which establishes a system for monitoring and reporting maritime traffic.

Finally, a cost recovery system is foreseen so that the costs of the ship waste reception service, excluding cargo residues, are borne by the ships themselves calling at or operating in Spanish ports through the payment of a fee, irrespective of whether they deliver the waste to a port reception facility or not. Thus, it seems that the government’s intention is that the fees should not discourage the delivery of waste.

The Royal Decree entered into force on 17 February 2022.

Comments on Supreme Court Judgment Nº 901/2021 in the “Spanair Case”

Back in 2019, in our article “Judgement of the Spanish Supreme Court in the Spanair crash case”, we pointed out that the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court in its judgment of 17 May 2019 no. 1513/2019 settled the question of the evaluation of personal injuries suffered in an air accident, by confirming the criteria of the Provincial Court of Barcelona, judgment no. 165/2016, of 12 July, and determining that, in the absence of regulation for the evaluation of personal injuries caused in aviation accidents, it was more appropriate to provide compensation based on the existing legal scale for personal injuries caused in motor vehicle accidents (RDL no 8/2004, of 29 October, approving the revised text of Civil Liability and Insurance Act in the Circulation of Motor Vehicles).

However, the judgement pointed out that the indicative use of the scale does not prevent the application of corrective criteria according to the circumstances of the sector of activity to which it refers. In the case of an air accident, due to its catastrophic nature and the other circumstances surrounding it, it is reasonable that the compensation resulting from the application of the scale be increased by an additional percentage, which in this case was set at 50 %.

Now, after years of litigation arising from the very serious plane crash suffered by the now defunct airline Spanair in 2008, resulting in the death of one hundred and fifty four people and eighteen injured, the recent Judgment of the Supreme Court no. 901/2021 of 21 December 2021 dismisses the extraordinary appeal for procedural infringement and the cassation appeals against judgment no 5/2018, of 8 January, of the Provincial Court of Madrid, filed by Mapfre Global Risks Compañía Internacional de Seguros y Reaseguros S.A., among others, to confirm that, without prejudice to other possible causes, the accident occurred as a result of an inadequate configuration of the aircraft to perform this maneouver, attributable to the pilot an co-pilot of the aircraft. Likewise, the court establishes hat Mapfre is civilly liable for the damages caused by the accident, as it was the insurer of the company Spanair at the time of the accident.

Furthermore, in line with the above, Judgment no 901/2021 in its Sixth Legal Basis states that, by using as a criterion for compensation the indicative application of the scale in the annex to Legislative Royal Decree no 8/2004, of 29 October, the Provincial Court did not violate the principle of indemnity in the compensation of damages or apply limitations to compensation for death or bodily injury, incompatible with the framework of the Montreal Convention and Regulation (EC) no. 2027/1997, as amended by Regulation (EC) no. 882/2002, of 13 May 2002.

Consequently, the insurer is ordered to pay compensation, the amount of which now exceeds four million Euro.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Continues to Deploy Drones to Monitor Emissions from Merchant Ships in EU Waters in 2022

According to the Roadmap of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), in 2022, which is now beginning, the development of the capabilities of remotely piloted aircraft, commonly known as drones (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems or RPAS), will continue, especially regarding the detection of possible pollutant emissions from merchant ships exceeding the limits established in Annex VI of the International Convention on Marine Pollution (MARPOL). Sulphur content limit for marine fuels is currently set at 0.5 % by mass.

By 2022, these drones are also expected to be able to monitor the NOx content of smoke from ships underway, in addition to the SOx mentioned above.

In fact, during 2021, emission control campaigns were already carried out with drones in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar, Lithuania, France, and the Baltic Sea. Specifically, in relation to the deployment of the drone in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar between July and October, EMSA, together with the Directorate General of the Merchant Navy and Harbor Master of Algeciras, carried out a total of 319 controls on different merchant vessels while they were sailing through the Strait, detecting possible non-compliance in twenty-eight (28) of the vessels.

Although the readings obtained using these novel aerial means may be indicative of excess sulphur marine fuel consumption, they do not directly result in the initiation of a sanctioning proceeding or in the imposition of a penalty for the monitored vessel.  In order to corroborate the preliminary drone readings, a detailed Port State Control (PSC) inspection will always be required upon arrival of the ship in port, together with the corresponding sampling of the fuels used during the voyage.

After this inspection and chemical analysis of the fuel samples obtained, if the sulphur reading is above 0.5 % by mass, the corresponding Harbor Master’s Office will initiate an administrative sanctioning proceeding against the “ISM Manager” and against the master of the inspected vessel, and the vessel will be provisionally detained until sufficient guarantees have been provided at the discretion of the responsible Harbor Master’s Office.

The data obtained from the drone measurements are also communicated to the THETIS-EU database, also managed by EMSA. The purpose of this is to effectively monitor the non-compliance detected and to establish a system of alerts for the different maritime administrations of the Member States of the European Union, facilitating thus the taking of appropriate measures to prevent and/or sanction the aforementioned typified conducts.