In an exclusive interview with Who’s Who Legal, Luis de San Simón at San Simón & Duch discusses the effect of global events on the Spanish shipping market, some of the country’s recent legislative changes and the challenging future of the practice area.

WWL: Have there been any significant legislative changes in Spain over the past year that have affected the practice of shipping law?
Throughout 2015 there were no significant changes in the Spanish jurisdiction that affected the practice of shipping law, but in 2014 a milestone in Spain’s maritime law took place, when the Shipping Law 14/2014 (LNM) was published in the Official Gazette and came into force on 25 September 2014. This law affects our practice since it covers almost all aspects of shipping and has given Spain a modern general maritime legal regime, suitable for the needs of today’s maritime transport and offering legal certainty.

WWL: How has the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy affected the market in Spain? Has it changed the type of work that you have been receiving?
Spain is no exception in the chaos that the Hanjin collapse has created in the shipping industry. It has had a ripple effect on port operations, cargo owners and supply chain companies, to name just a few. Since Hanjin announced that it had filed for rehabilitation we have received several enquiries and instructions related to various legal issues from suppliers, cargo interests and their underwriters, NVOCCs and their underwriters, container lessors, and others. It is to be noted that there are in Spain three Hanjin ports and therefore we are experiencing some hectic days as a consequence of the bankruptcy of this shipping company. This will likely continue – although at a different pace – since the effects and implications of Hanjin’s collapse will be felt for many months to come.

WWL: What has been the greatest challenge the Spanish legal mar ket has faced over the past year?
The above-mentioned Spanish Shipping Law is an ample reform of the Spanish Maritime Law, considering almost all aspects of shipping; as a renewal it is making all specialists adapt some of their practice to this legal development. It is drafted with the aim to unifiy and coordinate domestic and international maritime law. Another practical challenge is the open door for the attachment of assets throughout the European Union under the recently revised Brussels I Regulation, whereby it is possible to enforce provisional measures throughout the European Union on the basis of an application by a party in a member state.

WWL: How would you describe the legal competition in the countr y at the moment?
I would say that competition in Spain between the law firms, in shipping, is rich and varied as each law firm has its own
strategy. There are very good lawyers in these law firms, making the competition a challenging one.

WWL: How do you envisage the practice area developing over the next few years?
Our area, as with many others, is sailing on difficult waters. One year ago many of us were engaged with OW Bunkers debacle, which started in Denmark and resulted in a flurry of legal disputes all around the world involving complex issues. This year, the bad news came from Korea, after the summer holidays, when Hanjin Shipping filed for court receivership. The crisis is global and I’m afraid it will continue, forcing legal practitioners to keep adapting their practice to difficult times, which is also challenging.

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