Verónica Meana and Mikel Garteiz-goxeaskoa participate once again in the Master’s Degree in Business and Maritime Law of the Spanish Maritime Institute

Verónica Meana and Mikel Garteiz-goxeaskoa, partners of the AIYON Abogados’ offices in Madrid and Bilbao respectively, are once again members of the team of lectures  teaching at the Master’s Degree in Business and Maritime Law of the Spanish Maritime Institute.

Aimed particularly at graduates in Law, Economics and Business Administration, Seamanship and Naval Engineers who want to develop their work activity in the maritime sphere, this master’s degree is also intended for the professionals of the sector who want to acquire practical and updated expertise.

The master’s degree, which this year celebrates its 38th edition, collaborates with the Faculty of Law of the Universidad Pontifica Comillas and brings here together prestigious maritime lawyers. It comprises of 500 class hours, will start in October and will run until June 2022.

Verónica Meana joins the Arbitration Team of the Madrid Bar Association

Verónica Meana Larrucea, partner in charge of the AIYON Abogados’ office in Madrid, has recently joined the Arbitration Court of the Madrid Bar Association.

The arbitrators are appointed by the Arbitration Court at the proposal of an Evaluation Committee designated by the governing body of the Bar Association after considering their curriculum and eligibility.

Since her nomination for the area of Maritime and Transport Law was accepted, Verónica will participate together with the other fifteen members in the resolution of the conflicts that may arise within this sphere.

Impact of COVID-19 in the operation of vessels arriving at Spanish ports: obligation to isolate or confine “Close contacts” in case of infection of a crew member and the “Free Practique”

Air and Sea Workers, and the Reduction Coefficients

Workers in the transport sector generally endure difficult working conditions due to the long periods of work they must perform away from their homes, the distance from their families, the arduous schedules and, on occasions, the dangerous and unhealthy nature of their work; in short, the working conditions of all these workers could be defined as, at least, complicated.

In view of this reality, different Social Security systems in various countries have provided early retirement procedures for those workers who, foreseeably, suffer a deterioration in their health and put their physical or psychological integrity at risk in the performance of their professional duties. Good examples of this are workers of maritime and air transport sector, who we will focus on in this article.

In accordance with the above, different international regulations establish regimes for taking early retirement, i.e., they apply what in Spain are called “reduction coefficients” (COE).

These “reduction coefficients” of retirement pensions are coefficients that are applied to determine the amount of the pension when there has been an early retirement allowed by the Special Regime for Sea Workers (RD 1311/2007 of October 5) for example, or the Special Regime for Flight Personnel or Aerial Work (RD 1559/1986, of June 18). But when and how should these reduction coefficients be applied?

They will be applied exclusively when the worker has considered it necessary to lower his retirement age. The period of time during which the worker’s retirement age is lowered will be counted as having contributed for the sole purpose of determining the percentage applicable to calculate the amount of the retirement pension. In other words, the objective of the COE is none other than to compensate for the effects that retirement at an earlier age has on the amount of the retirement pension.

That is to say, if the worker has not considered it necessary to lower the retirement age, it will not be possible to apply the reduction coefficients to increase the amount of the pension to be received by the worker.

This explanation is supported by Supreme Court Ruling 807/2021, of July 20, 2021, which concludes that the reduction coefficients cannot be computed when the worker is 65 years old, since, in that case, he would be receiving a higher pension than the one he would have obtained if he had retired at 65 years of age. Since he/she is not entitled to the application of the reduction coefficient for being over 65 years of age, the reduction coefficient will not be recognized for the calculation of the pro-rata contribution percentage.

For this reason, we recommend that all workers who may be affected by the early retirement age and, therefore, by the application of the reduction coefficients be appropriately informed and advised by professionals on the optimum age at which to retire and the resulting contribution percentage at the time of retirement.

Informative Talk on Maritime Law for Ship Repair Companies of Tenerife

Last May, in cooperation with our law firm, the Provincial Association of Auxiliary Companies of Ship Repair and Shipbuilding, (ATIREN-CONNAVALTE), member of FEMETE (Provincial Federation of Metal Companies and New Technologies of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Training within Metal Sector of Tenerife), offered to its members the first formative seminar on Maritime Law, expecting it to be the first one from many others that will follow it.

During the presentation, the speakers addressed the concept of ship repair contract, its diverse models and overall requirements. They also discussed arrest of ships and the right of retention as a legal guarantee for recovery of maritime liens, that companies devoted to works or supply of parts /raw material on different vessels which they work for might have.

Our partners of AIYON Abogados located in the offices of Bilbao and Algeciras, Zuberoa Elorriaga, José Antonio Domínguez and Mikel Garteiz-goxeaskoaactively participated in this informative talk, remaining at the disposal of the companies of the association, or third entities, for resolving any question or inquiry.

From AIYON Abogados we would like to thank to ATIREN-CONNAVALTE for the opportunity we were given, hoping that this cooperation will continue in the future.

 

New website of AIYON Abogados on Ship Arrest

AIYON Abogados has launched a new website devoted to the management of the ship arrest, both to request its lifting as well as to proceed with its execution. Thus, those interested in learning about and, when needed, in using this efficient legal tool that guarantees the recovery of a debt (International Convention on Arrest of Ships, 1999) may obtain all relevant information on www.shiparrestrelease.com

The concept of arrest of ships entails the detention of any kind of vessel by judicial authorities in cooperation with maritime authorities of the place where the vessel is located. Given the usual brevity of the vessel’s port call and the internationality of the maritime sector as well as of its operators, the possibility to take an anticipatory and urgent legal action, such as arrest of ships, allows for an easy recovery of a debt from shipowners and shippers. The same urgency involves the reverse procedure when the action is taken from the position of shipowners and shippers. 

Our multidisciplinary team of lawyers, comprising of professionals of renowned prestige and with a large trajectory as experts in Maritime Law is here at your entire disposal to assist any query or initiate any action related to ship arrest or to arrange the lifting of the measure on a vessel.    

Royal Decree 339/2021, of May 18, regulating the safety and pollution prevention equipment on recreational craft

From the relentless technological evolution of the equipment to be installed on recreational craft along with the latest update coming from Europe on recreational craft and marine equipment, derives the new Royal Decree 339/2021 of May 18, regulating the safety equipment and pollution prevention of recreational craft  published today May 19, 2021, and whose entry into force is set for next July 1, 2021.

For the purposes of this RD, recreational craft will be considered all types of vessels which, regardless of their means of propulsion, have a length between 2.5 and 24 meters, have been designed and intended for recreational and sporting purposes, and which do not carry more than 12 passengers.

The main objectives include, on the one hand, the determination of the equipment for the prevention of pollution of the marine environment and the safety equipment for navigation, rescue and fire protection, as well as the distinction of the requirements for such equipment. And, on the other hand, the establishment, in a clear and precise way, of the obligations of the shipowners in relation to them.

Regarding the novelties included in this Royal Decree, developed in six chapters and several final provisions, the extension of its scope of application stands out (art. 2), which will be extended: (i) to recreational vessels that are registered or pre-registered in Spain; (ii) to those that carry out an activity for commercial or lucrative purposes in maritime waters in which Spain exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights or jurisdiction, regardless of their flag State; (iii) and that navigate in Spanish internal maritime waters or the Spanish territorial sea, regardless of their flag State, and that are owned or have their use and enjoyment, natural or legal persons with residence or registered office in Spain.

Therefore, it will apply even to those vessels that, flying a foreign flag, sail through Spanish waters and the owner or the person who is actually using the vessel has a connection with Spain. As can be deduced, the aim is to avoid the escape of recreational vessels to foreign flags with more lax requirements in terms of safety and pollution prevention.

It also highlights the reference to the responsibility of owners and skippers in relation to the maintenance of the boat and safety and prevention equipment, in terms established in this Royal Decree, ensuring in any case that the boat is always in a position, to go to sea without danger to the maximum people authorized on board.

In addition to developing the sections of Rescue Equipment, Navigation Equipment, Fire Safety Equipment and means of rescue and Pollution Prevention, the regulation includes the determination of the penalty system applicable in case of infringement. To this end, it specifies and graduates the infringements already established in the Consolidated Text of the Law of State Ports and Merchant Marine, approved by the Royal Legislative Decree 2/2011, of September 5, which facilitates the determination of the corresponding penalties to be imposed, which will range from 100 € to 3,000 €.

“MV EVER GIVEN”: Insurances and General Average

On 23 March 2021, the vessel “MV EVER GIVEN”, one of the largest container ships in the world with a capacity of 20,000 TEUs, was grounded in the Suez Canal (Egypt). From then on and for the following six days, until the ship could finally be towed, an immense traffic jam was generated in the area, blocking the passage of thousands of goods transported daily by this waterway.

To date, there have been countless delays, because, in addition to those suffered by the cargo carried by the “MV EVER GIVEN”, there have also been delays suffered by all the ships and their cargoes that were trapped on one side of the canal or the other during this time. This has affected a significant number of shipowners and shippers worldwide.

Over time, all the details of this event will become clearer, and responsibilities will be clarified, but what can be said is that the insurance coverages of the affected operators and agents will have to be activated in order to be able to face the many costly claims that will be filed.

In this case, the directly affected insurance policies would be:

– Hull & Machinery Insurance, for damage to the proper vessel and    salvage costs.

– Protection and Indemnity Insurance (P&I), for shipowners and charterers, with civil liability cover.

– Cargo insurance for shippers, for possible damage to cargo.

The “MV EVER GIVEN” has been arrested since 13 April, at the request of the Suez Canal Authority (hereinafter SCA). SCA originally claimed $916 million for the non-payment of the ship’s refloating and maintenance costs but decided to reduce the claim by almost a third part, filing a final claim for $600 million in order to find a quick solution for the matter.

In view of this situation, several relevant questions arise.

 

  • Do shippers have the right to claim against the carrier for the delay?

Spanish law provides some protection in this respect, obliging the shipper to prove that the delay suffered was not “reasonable”. However, after analysing the standard contracts of carriage generally used by maritime carriers, it is very unlikely that the applicable law be Spanish law, as English law usually dominates these agreements.

At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that losses arising from delay are usually excluded from cargo insurance policies for maritime transport, as is the case in the most common clauses, the English clauses (ICCA).

 

  • Why does the ship’s operator, Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine CORP (EMC), not transfer the cargo to other vessels so that it can reach its destination?

The answer to this question is not simple.

Although the operator’s legal representatives are struggling to obtain the necessary permits and transhipments, at present the vessel and the cargo transported are understood to be a single entity and indivisible unit affecting the expenses claimed by SCA. This means that as long as the vessel is detained in Egypt, so are its goods.

Furthermore, to be able to carry out the transhipment, the vessel “MV EVER GIVEN” would have to move from the lake where it is berthed and detained (Great Bitter Lake) to the nearest port.

Finally, it cannot be overlooked that the shipowner has declared the figure of “general average”, so that the cargo transported is affected by the costs of the general average.

 

  • What is “General Average”?

It is understood as any expense or sacrifice reasonably and intentionally incurred by the shipowner, the purpose of which is to preserve the maritime adventure, the voyage and the goods involved in a maritime expedition, avoiding greater damage.

Once the general average is declared, all the interests involved (the ship, the cargo, the freight, etc.) have the legal obligation to contribute proportionally to the payment of those damages or expenses generated to save the voyage and the rest of the cargo. Therefore, this is a figure that is usually present in the ICC coverage agreed by shippers.

Shippers who do not have the goods insured under these clauses will have to provide personally the guarantees required by the shipowner to ensure their subsequent contribution to the general average. As long as such guarantees are not provided, the goods will continue retained by the shipowner.

In summary, in view of the fact that the vessel continues detained while waiting for the evaluation of the possible transhipment of the cargo to other vessels, we recommend that those affected receive specialised and appropriate legal advice to deal with the damages that they may have suffered due to this situation with all the guarantees.

“The Legal 500” joins the list of international distinctions of AIYON Abogados

AIYON Abogados SLP has received a special recognition for its areas of Maritima and Land Transport Law by “The Legal 500”, a prestigious international guide that investigates the activity of more than 2,700 law firms in 80 countries. This evaluation is added to the gradually extending relation of distinctions granted to the firm: “The International Comparative Legal Guides (ICGL)”, “The Insurance Disputes Law Review” and “Chambers”, among others.   

In its 2021 edition for Europe, “The Legal 500” places AIYON Abogados in leading positions in Maritime and Land Transport Law and recommends its services for being considered, according to collected testimonies, “a top-rate boutique law firm with a team available 24 hours every day of the year and comprising of professionals with an ample formation in law and in-depth knowledge of recent Spanish jurisdiction. The guide also underscores the “fairness and the easy communication of its lawyers”, “who have been involved in the majority of the main maritime, trade, insurance and transport cases in Spain with excellent results”. 

Maritime Law

With regard to the performance in maritime transport, the references consulted by “The Legal 500” stresses that it is “a solid firm that, from its offices in Bilbao, Madrid, Cádiz and Algeciras, offers an on-site service throughout the whole country”. “The extensive legal and technical training of its lawyers in maritime transport – the guide adds – provides them with deep knowledge of the business, the operations and its physical execution”. In the same way, “the proximity and the permanent communication with the clients (shipowners / charterers, masters, crew members, ship agents, insurance companies, etc.) and their successful and renowned trajectory in advising on sea pollution, collisions, salvage, wrecking, insurance, stowaways, ship arrests, piracy, ship repair and construction contracts are positively pondered.

Land and Air Transport 

The firm also receives excellent references for its “experience in any kind of issues arising in the sector of land transport”. Particular consideration shall be given to their efforts in national and international transport (cargo claims and theft, contracts of guarantee, contracts of logistics and multimodal transport, sanctioning proceedings, etc.) The expert capability and practice in air transport is also being addressed (insurance contracts and air traffic accidents, as well as purchase, leasing and financing of aircrafts, etc.) 

In both sections, the guide evaluates the added value of AIYON Abogados that, according to the references obtained by “The Legal 500” rests upon the ample experience of every member of the team (on average 17 years) and a large teamwork culture, since all the partners have been working together for most of the time of their careers. This allows the firm to choose the best team for every case and client in particular with the aim to protect and promote the business of their clients. 

“The Legal 500” 

The ´purpose of “The Legal 500” is to help lawyers and operators find the most suitable advisors by means their classification, based on the opinion of 300,000 respondents that are processed and evaluated by independent researchers. Merit is the only criterion applied for including law firms into the classification, which is thoroughly reviewed every year.