Since 1 September 2004, disputes related to Maritime Law are to be conducted by the Commercial Courts. Proceedings before Commercial Courts commence by lodging a writ of summons together with a power of attorney and the documents supporting the claim. The Court will then grant defendants a 20-day period to submit their points of defence together with the main available evidence. The Judge will call parties to a preliminary hearing in which parties are invited to settle; failing which, procedural questions are discussed and the relevant evidence is proposed. The trial will then take place to evaluate the evidence and to summarise arguments and defences. The judgment would subsequently be rendered. Such a first instance judgment could be appealed before the Appellate Court and, in particular cases, judgment from the Appellate Courts could be further appealed before the Supreme Court.
The time-scale would mainly depend on the particular Court dealing with the matter, being reasonable to expect nine months to see the first judgment rendered and another year to obtain a judgment from the Court of Appeal.
Pursuant to the LNM, the public notaries have the competence to deal with sea protests, proof of incidents, liquidation of the general average, deposits and sale of cargo and luggage for payment of freight, other expenses and passage, loss, theft, or destruction of the bills of lading and sale of cargo altered, damaged or in danger of imminent damage.
Spanish Courts will apply the law expressly chosen by the parties to contractual obligations, provided that such law is connected in some way to the matter in question. A party who invokes a foreign legal provision must show evidence of its content and validity, for which the most common instrument used is the presentation of affidavits. Act 29/2015 of 30 July on international cooperation in civil matters rules that exceptionally, and in cases where the parties cannot evidence the contents and validity of foreign law, Spanish Courts may apply Spanish Law.
Act 5/2012 of 5 March regulates mediation in civil and commercial matters but, due to a poor tradition in Spain, in mediation and the little
time which has elapsed since the Royal Decree-Act entered into force, no decisions of mediators on maritime matters would be available yet.
There is no specific maritime arbitration procedure in Spain other than that established by Act 60/2003 on Arbitration, modelled on the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law. Mediation is contemplated in Act 5/2012 on Mediation in Civil and Commercial Matters, but there is no specific procedure in place for maritime controversies. Mediation has not often been used in Spain.