The Spanish Courts analyze a “Jurisdiction clause” inserted in a Bill of Lading

Section 9 of the Court of Appeals of Valencia has issued a new Resolution, dated 17th May 2017, regarding jurisdiction clauses inserted in bills of lading after the entry into force of the Spanish Shipping Act (Law 14/2014 of 24th July). The clause in question established that any dispute arising under the bill of lading should be referred to the jurisdiction of the Hong Kong Tribunals. The Court of Appeals of Valencia, reversing the Mercantile Court’s decision in first instance, rejected the validity of the submission clause based on the fact that it had not been expressly agreed by the receiver.

The Court based its decision on the Supreme Court judgment dated 31st May 2012 which requires express acceptance of jurisdiction clauses. Although the Court of Appeals did not ignore other recent decisions from other Spanish Court of Appeals, it argued that those decisions were made prior to the enactment of the Spanish Shipping Act and, therefore, should be subject to review. According to the Court of Appeals of Valencia, the clause in question did not meet the requirements established by the Law 7/1998 of 13th April for express acceptance.