Marine Casualty. Salvage / General Average. Provisions that will impact upon the liability and response of interested parties. Relevant law and conventions in force

Salvage / General Average

Pursuant to article 357 LNM, salvage is governed by the International Convention on Salvage, signed in London in April 1989, and by any Protocols or reviews that modify it, and of which Spain is part, as well as by the dispositions of the LNM itself. Law 60/1962 of 24 December, on maritime assistance, salvage, towage and extractions, is explicitly abolished, with the exception of the dispositions of Title II, which refer to jurisdiction and procedure, and which remain in force.

The LNM de nes and regulates salvage in article 357 et seq., establishing for this legal gure an all-encompassing concept:

“All acts undertaken to help or assist a ship, vessel, or craft, or to safeguard or recover any goods in danger in any type of navigable waters, with the exception of continental waters that are not communicated with sea waters and are not used by maritime navigation vessels” (article 358 LNM).

Salvage claims shall fall under civil jurisdiction, unless the parties agree to submit to an administrative maritime arbitration system before specialised bodies of the Navy, or unless an intervention by the Navy becomes necessary because of the type of salvage concerned (salvage of goods abandoned in the sea and of unknown property), or if agreement is reached to submit to other tribunals.

One new aspect is that the relevant bodies of the Navy that will deal with actions and prizes resulting from salvage operations and the remunerations for towage will be the Council of Maritime Arbitration and the Maritime Arbitration Audit Of ce, although, until these bodies are constituted, the Maritime Central Court and the Permanent Maritime Court will continue to carry out their tasks in accordance with the dispositions of the Law 60/1962.

One important technical improvement, and perhaps the most relevant one in what concerns salvage, is the power granted to both the master and the shipowner to sign salvage contracts on behalf of the owner of the goods on board.

Another important aspect is the acknowledgment of the salvor’s right of retention over the salvaged ship and goods where no suf cient guarantee of payment has been given, without prejudice of recourse to a possible pre-emptive arrest of those items.

In order to guarantee environmental protection, the LNM regulates the intervention of the Maritime Authority in salvage operations.

As far as the regulation of general average is concerned, the LNM states that the interested parties in the voyage “can freely agree the rules regulating the ways in which a settlement will take place and, if not otherwise speci ed, the most recent York-Antwerp Rules shall apply”.

The LNM foresees a procedure for cases in which there is no agreement between the interested parties on the settlement of the general average, and establishes that in such cases, a public notary will be charged with its processing and resolution.