THE arrest of a ship in Spain is a good tool to enforce claims against ship owners and other operators. The recent implementation of specialized mercantile Courts in Spain has improved the swiftness of the procedure and reaction of the Court where an arrest application is presented. Likewise, the perception of a ship arrest as a tool to obtain security rather than as a way to proceed to the ship’s auction has increased.

A ship arrest can be carried out in 3 or 4 hours from the client’s first call. A power of attorney is required in order to aver the representation of the plaintiff. A lawyer and a bailiff need to be employed before the Court. Registration of a lawyer before any Spanish province entitles him to act before all Spanish ports for a ship arrest, including the Canaries and Balearics islands.

Spain ratified the 1952 Brussels Arrest Convention on the 11 of September 1953, there since the Convention has been in force, and is considered the main legal tool in the field of Spanish ship arrest law. Spain has ratified as well the 1999 Geneva Arrest Convention, which however is not in force as signatory parties have not reached the minimum required.

Under general principles of Spanish law, a ship arrest may be applied for by a creditor, before, at the time, or after, bringing an action on the merits for the main proceedings. For the creditor to be able to succeed in his application, he needs to aver before the Court the existence of a “fumus boni iuris” and a “periculum in mora”. The plea under the general principles of Spanish procedural law has the benefit of comprehending any type of claim based on debts or damages whatsoever been caused, not therefore limited to the scope of maritime claims listed under Art.1 of the 1952 Brussels Convention. Hence, unpaid Protection and Indemnity Clubs premiums, (1) or unpaid broker ´s commissions can be secured throughout it. For this second via to apply, regard is to be taken to the flag of the ship.

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