On March 23rd, 2019, the Spanish official gazette published the Royal Decree 131/2019, of March 8th, whereby ship agents’ duties were developed.
This new regulation complements the provisions of the State Ports and the Merchant Navy Act – Royal Decree 2/2011 of September 5, and the Spanish Shipping Act 14/2047 of July 24, regarding the figure of the ship agent.
The Royal Decree 131/2019 has a total of ten articles that develop the conditions for the establishment and exercise of the activity of ship agents in Spanish ports, both state and autonomous. These ten articles are arranged in two Chapters, one establishing a series of “General Provisions” and another, entitled “Relations of the ship agents with the Marine Administration and the Port Authorities” establishing the functions of this highly relevant figure in the world of maritime transport.
This last Chapter regulates, among other issues: (i) that communications between the ship agent and the maritime authorities will be carried out through electronic means and the national single window; (ii) the obligation to provide continuous attention to the ship and to pay the outstanding debts owed to the Harbor Master or Port Authority until the termination of the agency, termination that must be notified through electronic means; (iii) the creation of a public Registry of ship agents that will facilitate an adequate control of the persons or companies that perform as ship agents.
We would also want to highlight the definition of ship agent contained in the Royal Decree and that describes the agent as “the natural or legal person who deals, on behalf of the owner or shipowner, in whose name and representation he or she acts, with the material and legal steps necessary for the dispatch of and other needs of the ship in port“. This definition is similar although slightly broader than the one contained in art. 319 of the Spanish Shipping Act of Maritime Navigation.
The R.D. 131/2019 of March 8 will come into force on July 1st, 2019.