The new Shipping Law (14/2014), which took effect on September 24 2014, marks a milestone in Spanish maritime law. It has brought the domestic regime into line with international conventions and EU regulations, and makes Spain one of the few countries in the world in which the vast majority of maritime law is governed by a single statute (for further details please see "New Shipping Law: key players", "New Shipping Law: key contracts", "New Shipping Law: accidents and their aftermath" and "New Shipping Law: marine insurance").

Among other things, the Shipping Law establishes some new limitation periods for the exercise of actions derived from contracts and from situations relating to maritime navigation.

These include a significant reduction in the limitation periods for actions resulting from failure to comply with a shipbuilding contract (whether a failure to comply on the part of the shipbuilder or a payment default on the part of the shipowner), which is now three years from the date specified in the contract, or, failing this, three years from delivery of the vessel. Previously, the limitation period applied in such cases by the Supreme Court (in accordance with the limitation period applicable to personal actions under the Civil Code) was 15 years from payment of the price of the vessel or from the time at which there was a known intention to terminate the contract.

Likewise, in the area of maritime insurance, the rights deriving from an insurance contract will now expire within a two-year period, which begins to run from the moment at which they could have been exercised. The previous limitation period, set out in Article 954 of the Civil Code, was three years from the end of the contract or the date of the accident.

For further information on this topic please contact Luis de San Simon or Mercedes Duch at San Simón & Duch by telephone (+34 913 579 298) or email (lsansimon@lsansimon.com or mduch@lsansimon.com). The San Simón & Duch website can be accessed at www.lsansimon.com.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.