Last Thursday, May 30, we participated in the National Congress of the Spanish Maritime Law Association, which, under the title “Sailing Together”, is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

The event was attended by leading experts such as Jacinto José Pérez Benítez, Magistrate of the First Section of the Provincial Court of Pontevedra; Pepa Cermeño de Boluda and our colleague Aida García de Diego of ERHARDT Projects.

Our colleague Aida presented a detailed analysis of the effects that the regulation of the Port Handling Contract has had from a private legal perspective, highlighting its role as an auxiliary and autonomous contract in the field of navigation since the entry into force of the Maritime Navigation Law 14/2014.

In her speech, Aida evaluated the impact of the 10 years of validity of the LNM from the perspective of port terminal activity.

Positive Aspects

Aida highlighted how the legislator has indirectly considered transport or port terminals by establishing a detailed regulatory framework for their activity, especially in areas of public domain. However, from the perspective of private law, the regulatory framework for transport terminals has been insufficient, describing it as a “regulatory oasis”.

Among the positive aspects, Aida underlined the resolution of problems related to the ETT Convention, which has provided legal certainty. She also highlighted the improvement in the regulation of the auxiliary activity and the harmonization of the liability regime for the handler of goods.

Negative Aspects

However, Aida also identified negative aspects, particularly regarding liability for damages. Article 329.1 establishes a semi-mandatory regime that prohibits agreements that reduce, exempt or exclude the terminal’s liability for losses, damages or delays to goods. This regime allows, however, for the terminal to assume greater, more rigorous liability, or to increase the amount of compensation due.

Unlike shipowners, who rarely aggravate their liability regime, terminals face a weaker negotiating capacity vis-à-vis shipowners in liner contracts. This situation has led to cases where legally established liability limits are required to be exceeded. When these contractual limits are exceeded, insurance coverage covering the terminal’s civil liability may be excluded.

Conclusions

Aida García de Diego’s presentation provided a critical and balanced view of the achievements and challenges of the Maritime Navigation Law in its first 10 years of implementation, offering a valuable perspective for future regulatory and operational development in the maritime and port sector.

 

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