- Spain arbitration review Journal
- April 2015
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
- Spanish maritime law has recently undergone a deep reform, as a result of the entering into force of the new 2014 Maritime Navigation Act. Although the Act includes very few provisions on arbitration, the changes introduced in this realm are quite significant. Many of the matters addressed in the new maritime general framework, and particularly maritime contracts, have been the subject of arbitration for decades. The Act assumes that their regime as such, including their arbitrability or the recognition and enforcement of the resulting awards, will continue to be determined by general arbitration laws and international conventions in force in Spain. Worth highlighting, however, are the new requirements that the Act imposes on arbitration agreements in contracts for the use of the vessel (which in the act include charterparties or contracts for the carriage of goods by sea) and other contracts for the provision of maritime services. In these contracts, arbitration clauses submitting resolution of controversies to arbitration in a foreign country will need to be individually and separately negotiated, otherwise being null and void. Likewise, arbitration clauses in bills of lading will only be binding on third party holders upon their express consent. With these new provisions the Spanish legislator seems to react to the problems felt in practice, where arbitration clauses with the said features are often unilaterally imposed by one of the parties, thereby in fact hindering the resolution of disputes arisen under the contract. This article makes an attempt to address the several interpretive challenges that the said provisions entail.