El pasado 10 de mayo entró en vigor el Real Decreto 270/2013 de 19 de abril, por el que se regula la expedición y control del certificado acreditativo del seguro o garantía financiera distinta del seguro que cubra la responsabilidad civil de los transportistas por mar en caso de muerte o lesiones de los pasajeros derivadas de un accidente.

Este Real Decreto supone un paso más en el desarrollo del Reglamento europeo sobre responsabilidad de los transportistas de pasajeros por mar en caso de accidente, sin perder de vista la regulación del Convenio de Atenas de 1974.

La intención del legislador ha sido que cualquier transportista de pasajeros por mar tenga contratado bien un seguro o bien una garantía financiera (distinta del seguro) que debe ser emitida por las entidades aseguradoras autorizadas para operar en determinados ramos, correspondiendo la función inspectora de estas certificaciones a la Dirección General de la Marina Mercante.

Este Real Decreto se aplica a buques españoles, prohibiéndoles la navegación si no lleva a bordo el certificado con plena validez de seguro o garantía financiera.

Con respecto a los buques extranjeros que entren en aguas españolas, las autoridades españolas pueden prohibir su entrada o salida de puerto a aquellos que conforme a la normativa europea tengan obligación de estar en posesión de un certificado de seguro o garantía financiera y no lo lleven a bordo o carezca de validez. Estas exigencias posibilitan la incoación del correspondiente expediente sancionador y la inmovilización del buque por las autoridades españolas hasta la subsanación de esta carencia.

Es de destacar que para el pago de las indemnizaciones que puedan surgir, el Real Decreto se remite al Reglamento europeo y al Convenio de Atenas, incluyendo la eventual limitación de responsabilidad del transportista.

Este Real Decreto supone un paso más hacia la seguridad jurídica en el ámbito de las reclamaciones derivadas de responsabilidad civil, garantizándose el cobro de las mismas mediante estos mecanismos aseguraticios.

El propio Real Decreto distingue la entrada en vigor del mismo para buques de la clase A o de la clase B, influyendo así mismo el tipo de tráfico que realicen.The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by the Sea was approved in the General Meeting held on 11 December 2008.

Widely known as the Rotterdam Rules, the text has not been enforced yet since although more than 20 nations have already signed it, only Spain and Togo have ratified it. Nevertheless, the precedent set by Spain is of great importance given its nature as a country of shippers.

The primary purpose of this International Treaty is to regulate international carriage of goods by sea through regular lines and is due to replace the Hague-Visby Rules, currently in force in most countries.

The most important contribution of this Convention is the fact that it provides a standard and common legal framework governing the rights and obligations of shippers, carriers and consignees under a contract for door-to-door shipments that involve international sea transport.

Besides, this legal framework responds to the needs of commercial and technological industries which try to achieve a better balance between the agents involved in the shipping business by including shipping containers and electronic transport records.

Therefore, apart from legal unification, one of its main advantages is the fact that it is a comprehensive and complete regime governing a wide range of issues. It addresses certain aspects that had not yet been included in any international standard on contracts of carriage of goods by sea.

Thus, the Rotterdam Rules govern not only the liability regime of the carrier but also other aspects such as the obligations of the parties in the contract of carriage of goods by sea (articles 11-16; articles 27-34); characteristics and functions of transport records (articles 35-41; articles 50-56); special characteristics of shipping in containers or rules for the transfer of ownership on goods (articles 57-58).

We must also point out that the extension of the scope of sea transport and the regulation of door-to-door transport are the result of an innovative approach. Besides, the document clearly defines who the agents involved in the transport actually are, by removing the category of performing carrier and replacing it with an extensive reference to the parties executing the carriage instead.

Finally, because of the way of determining the proper jurisdiction to apply the Rotterdam Rules, it could be said that it eases access to courts by the wronged parties in sea transport.

Insurance certificate or financial guarantee covering civil liability in the transport of passengers by sea in case of accident

The Royal Decree 270/2013 of 19th April came into force last 10th May, governing the issuance and control of the insurance certificate or financial guarantee other than insurance policy covering civil liability of carriers by sea in case of death or personal injury of passengers in an accident.

This Royal Decree is a further step towards the implementation of the European Regulation on the liability of passenger carriers by sea in case of accident, keeping in mind the rules of the Athens Convention in 1974.

The purpose of the legislator was to compel all passenger carriers by sea to take out an insurance or financial guarantee (other than an insurance policy) which must be issued by insurance companies authorised to operate in certain branches. The supervisory body of these certificates will be the Directorate-General for Merchant Shipping.

This Royal Decree applies to Spanish vessels, forbidding them to sail if they do not have a valid insurance certificate or financial guarantee on board.

As for foreign vessels entering Spanish waters, the Spanish authorities may ban their entry into or departure from the ports to those ships that are required to have an insurance certificate or financial guarantee on board in accordance with the European Regulation and do not carry it or have a void one. These requirements make it possible to undertake the appropriate disciplinary actions and detention of the ship by the Spanish authorities until the lack of coverage has been sorted out.

It is also noteworthy that regarding the payment of compensations, the above Royal Decree refers to the European Regulation and the Athens Convention, foreseeing an eventual limitation of the carrier’s liability.

This Royal Decree is a further step towards legal certainty in civil liability claims, ensuring a compensation of those through these insurance methods.

The Royal Decree is enforced differently on Class-A and Class-B ships and also depending on the type of trade they perform.