To which major air law treaties is your state a party?
Greece has ratified the Warsaw Convention 1929 (effective since 11 April 1938), the Hague Protocol 1955 (effective since 21 September 1965), the Guadalajara Convention 1961 (effective since 17 December 1973) and the Guatemala Protocol 1971 (effective since 11 January 1989), as well as the Montreal Protocols No. 1 and 2 (effective from 15 February 1996) and the Montreal Convention 1999 (effective since 4 November 2003). Greece is also a party to the Rome Convention (1933), which nevertheless is not in effect to date, to the Chicago Convention (1944), the Geneva Convention (1948) and to the New York Convention of 1958, which it approved under the condition of the two limitations set forth in its article I(3).
What is the principal domestic legislation applicable to aviation finance and leasing?
The principal domestic legislation applicable is Law 1665/86 on Financial Leasing, as amended (by Laws 2367/95 and 2682/99), and currently in effect. It should be noted that the adoption by the Greek Parliament of Laws 4172/2013, 4223/2013 and 4308/2014 introduced significant changes to the institutional framework for leasing in Greece.
Are there any restrictions on choice-of-law clauses in contracts to the transfer of interests in or creation of security over aircraft? If parties are not free to specify the applicable law, is the law of the place where the aircraft is located or where it is registered the relevant applicable law?
According to article 49 of the Greek Air Law Code (Law 1815/1988, hereinafter referred to as GALC) on applicable law, all rights in rem on an aircraft shall be governed by the law of the place where the aircraft is registered. Moreover, in the case that the lessor is a foreign financial leasing company which is licensed to be established and operate in Greece, any issues arising between the foreign lessor and the Greek lessee with regard to the establishment and the extent of rights in rem on an aircraft, shall be governed by law of the nationality of the aircraft (ie, the law of the country where the aircraft is registered), as per article 1 of the Geneva Convention (1948).
Transfer of aircraft
How is title in an aircraft transferred?
Title in an aircraft is transferred according to the general provisions of the Greek Civil Code (GCC) on the transfer of ownership of movables. The transfer of title in an aircraft is effected via (i) an explicit written agreement signed between the owner (seller) and the acquirer of ownership (buyer), and (ii) the registration of this agreement with the Aircraft Registry kept by the Greek Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) (article 41 of the Greek Air Law Code). For the transfer of ownership on aircraft, it is sufficient to register the transfer agreement (bill of sale etc) with the Greek Aircraft Registry, while delivery of the aircraft is not required. The publicity to which the aircraft is submitted substitutes delivery. This does not entail, though, that delivery is unimportant: it is advisable to pursue delivery, so that, in case that the agreement (bill of sale) has any defect, the three-year ordinary acquisition by possession starts running (article 1041 of GCC and article 48, section 1 of GALC).
Transfer document requirements
What are the formalities for creating an enforceable transfer document for an aircraft?
The agreement for the transfer of an aircraft is always in writing. The transfer document may be either private or notarial. A private document is considered adequate per se. Notarial form is required when such a prerequisite also applies to the primary contractual relationship, therefore the same form must be kept for the transfer of the aircraft in rem. The transfer document is enforceable (ie, immediately recordable with the Aircraft Registry) when it bears certification of the authenticity (genuineness) of the signatures of the parties, as well as certification that the signatories are lawfully authorised and bind the contractual parties concerned with their signatures. If the transfer document was drawn up abroad, it must be certified by the local Greek Consular Authority at the place where it was actually executed or legalised in the form of an apostille in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention 1961.
For the legalisation of signatures of the corresponding parties it is necessary that the agreement has the form of a notarial document and bears the indication ‘notarised apostille’. If the agreement does not have the form of a notarial document, the contractual parties are obliged to produce appropriate certificates of a foreign competent authority, evidencing the company’s lawful establishment and its headquarters, as well as the authority and legalisation of the corporate bodies signing the agreement or authorising other corporate bodies or physical persons to sign the specific agreement in the name and on behalf of the legal entity. These certificates should also bear legalisation in the form of an apostille. In the case of legal entities, the will of their competent administration bodies for the realisation of the specific agreement should be evidenced via lawful documents (such as an appropriate decision of their board of directors). All foreign documents that are submitted to the Greek Aircraft Registry should be accompanied by a certified Greek translation.
Registration of aircraft ownership and lease interests
Identify and describe the aircraft registry.
The Aircraft Registry is a public registry operated by the GCAA. It comprises both aircraft ownership and lease registers. Separate registers are kept of aircraft of Greek and foreign ownership respectively, as well as registers of leased aircraft. Additionally, there are separate, specific registers for (non-attached) aircraft engines of Greek and foreign ownership and also books recording mortgages imposed on aircraft and engines, books recording attachments imposed on aircraft and engines, and a separate book recording claims on their ownership (article 17 of GALC). The aircraft registry is open to the public and anyone may have access to it and apply for official certificates relating to any registered aircraft or engine for a nominal administrative charge. All the aforementioned departments of the Greek Aircraft Registry are administered and kept by the GCAA. Similar registries and books are also kept by Greek consular authorities, with the exception of the aircraft claims register.
Registrability of ownership of aircraft and lease interests
Can an ownership or lease interest in, or lease agreement over, aircraft be registered with the aircraft registry? Are there limitations on who can be recorded as owner? Can an ownership interest be registered with any other registry? Can owners’, operators’ and lessees’ interests in aircraft engines be registered?
Ownership and lease interests in, as well as lease agreements over, aircraft can be registered with the aircraft registry.
There are specific limitations on who can be recorded as owner in the Greek Aircraft Registry: more specifically, if the owner is a physical person, he or she must have the citizenship of an EU member state or of a member state of the European Economic Zone and be the majority owner at a percentage of more than 50 per cent. In the case of a legal entity, it must be a Greek entity with its registered head office and principal place of business in Greece and hold a majority of more than 50 per cent, provided that:
- in the case of a general partnership, all partners should be physical persons who have citizenship of member states of the European Economic Area (EEA);
- in the case of a limited liability partnership, all general partners should be physical persons who are citizens of the EEA, while the two-thirds of the share capital should have been paid by physical persons who are citizens of the EEA;
- in the case of a limited liability company, the directors and three-quarters of the shareholders should be citizens of the EEA, while three-quarters of the shares should also belong to citizens of states that are members of the EEA;
- in the case of a société anonyme, all the shares should be registered and, in their absolute majority, should belong to physical persons who are citizens of the European Economic Zone, while two-thirds of the members of the board of directors, its president, its general manager and its mandatory or managing directors are physical persons who have the citizenship of state members of the European Economic Zone; or
- in the case of associations or unions of persons, two-thirds of their members and all members of their board of directors and supervisory council should be physical persons having citizenship of a state of the European Economic Zone (article 18 GALC).
To avoid multiple registrations, an aircraft may only be registered in the Greek Aircraft Registry on condition of its deregistration from its previous registry (article 24 of GALC). Greek nationality of an aircraft is acquired with its registration in the Greek registry (article 19 of GALC).
Owners’, operators’ and lessees’ interests in aircraft engines can be registered in the relevant Greek registries for engines of aircraft of Greek or foreign ownership kept by the GCAA.
Registration of ownership interests
Summarise the process to register an ownership interest.
The party seeking to register an aircraft ownership interest with the Greek aircraft registry must submit the following:
- a petition;
- a solemn declaration that the aircraft is not registered with the registry of any other state in the case of a new aircraft. If the aircraft is not new, then, in addition to this solemn declaration and prior to the aircraft’s registration with the Greek registry, it is necessary to produce the aircraft’s deregistration certificate from the previous registry. This deregistration certificate is sent to the GCAA directly by the state of the previous registration;
- the necessary documentary evidence proving the petitioner’s nationality. If this is a physical person, his or her identity card or passport will suffice (a copy of which is submitted to the GCAA). If the petitioner is a legal entity, then submission of its updated articles of association is required, together with other documents (authorisations, legalisation, minutes of the board of directors etc, as the case may be) that verify the identity of the person who has the right to bind the legal entity (company, etc) with his or her own signature;
- the documents necessary to evidence the aircraft’s ownership (ie, sale and purchase agreement or bill of sale (private or notarial)). If the transaction takes place abroad, the bill of sale should be drafted according to the formalities provided by the law of the state where it was redacted and be certified by the local Greek Consul or by the local state authority according to the Hague Convention 1961 in the form of an apostille. Any document in a foreign language other than English should be accompanied by an official Greek translation as a condition to be registered with the Greek aircraft registry;
- documentary evidence from the Greek Customs Authority certifying the settlement of the aircraft’s financial or fiscal obligations, as the case may be (eventual customs clearance, payment of VAT etc);
- an insurance policy or certificate from an insurance company or broker, but not a simple insurance agent, confirming the insurance coverage of liabilities arising from its operation, whether damages to the aircraft and passengers or cargo, as well as towards third parties on the ground. The insured must be named as the final user (ie, the operator of the aircraft), irrespective of whether he or she is the aircraft’s owner or lessee. Other physical persons or legal entities may be included in the insurance policy as co-insured;
- an airworthiness certificate of the aircraft issued or acceptable by the GCAA. This is valid only for the aircraft’s initial registration in the Greek registry; and
- the aircraft must also bear the identification mark described in the sixth edition of ICAO’s Annex 7 - article 2.
The costs entailed for an aircraft registration presently are:
- for a petition for the indenture of nationality and registration particulars of an aircraft (duration up to six months), following up the successive order of registration, whether the particulars are kept by the GCAA or not, €500 and €250, respectively;
- for the filing of a petition for the registry of an aircraft of maximum take-off weight (MTOW) up to 2,000kg, €100;
- for a petition for registration of an aircraft of MTOW from 2,001kg up to 5,700kg, €150;
- for a petition for registration of an aircraft of MTOW from 5,701kg up to 15,000kg, €250;
- for a petition for registration of an aircraft of MTOW from 15,001kg up to 50,000kg, €500;
- for a petition for registration of an aircraft of MTOW of more than 50,000kg, €1,500; and
- for the issuance of ownership certificate, €100.
Title to the engine automatically vests in the owner of a host aircraft.
Title and third parties
What is the effect of registration of an ownership interest as to proof of title and third parties?
The bill of sale document must be registered with the Aircraft Registry. This registration is a condition for the transfer of ownership to be completed, without which transfer of ownership is not effected. Moreover, a condition for the transfer of ownership is that the transferring party is the owner of the aircraft at the time of its registration with the Greek Registry. Before proceeding to registration, the competent registrar carries out an exhaustive check of the validity of the agreement for the transfer of ownership (bill of sale or any other similar title) and also reviews and checks the legalisation of the parties and the content and validity of all filed necessary documents and petitions. Therefore, registration constitutes proof of title, and thus third parties can rely on the accuracy of the public registration of the ownership interest. It is imperative that the transfer of ownership, either contractually or through acquisition due to death (via inheritance or bequest), derives from a document that should be duly registered, along with all other documentation required, with the Greek Aircraft Registry; otherwise no transfer of ownership is effected or registered. The registered ownership interest is effective as against third parties, even if the owner has a defective title and until its legal annulment.
Registration of lease interests
Summarise the process to register a lease interest.
The supporting documents to be produced with the Aircraft Registry are identical to those required for the registration of ownership interests (see question 8), but instead of a bill of sale, the petitioner shall file the relevant lease contract.
Certificate of registration
What is the regime for certification of registered aviation interests in your jurisdiction?
Certificates of registration of registered aviation interests are issued by the Aircraft Registry, which is kept by the GCAA. The aircraft or engine registration certificate comprises explicit reference to the aircraft’s or engine’s main identification characteristics and data and their owner, as well as other data, as these are specified by the provisions of presidential decrees in force (article 26 of GALC). A certificate regarding any mortgage or other encumbrance on an aircraft may be issued by the registrar on special application.
Deregistration and export
Is an owner or mortgagee required to consent to any deregistration or export of the aircraft? Must the aviation authority give notice? Can the operator block any proposed deregistration or export by an owner or mortgagee?
An aircraft is deregistered from the Greek Aircraft Registry in the case of:
- loss of its Greek nationality;
- total destruction, damage or loss;
- dismantling or scrapping, in any way that this may possibly occur; or
- lack of any news concerning the aircraft for three months after the last information concerning the same, if its loss is deemed as highly probable (article 31 of GALC).
The loss of the aircraft’s Greek nationality must be notified, without delay, to the GCAA, via a written declaration; the documents certifying the loss of the aircraft’s Greek nationality must be attached to this written declaration, which must be submitted to the GCAA by the aircraft’s owner or his or her legal successor. Deregistration of the aircraft is ordered by ministerial decision, issued after a petition of the interested party or ex officio, and following a proposal of the GCAA after having completed its research on the specific circumstances. Any sale transaction that entails loss of the aircraft’s Greek nationality is invalid unless it is effected on the written consent of the mortgagee. If the mortgaged aircraft is sold despite the aforementioned interdict, the mortgagee has the right to claim full payment of the amount of the outstanding debt. No deregistration can be made by the registrar without the written consent of the mortgagee.
The operator may block any proposed deregistration or export of aircraft by an owner or mortgagee if the operation agreement in force gives him or her such right.
Powers of attorney
What are the principal characteristics of deregistration and export powers of attorney?
There are no standard or principal characteristics of deregistration or export powers of attorney. The mortgagee does not have the right to deregister and export the aircraft. This right belongs exclusively to the aircraft’s owner, under the condition of his or her compliance with the legal provisions for such deregistration (see question 12). It is self-evident that the owner of the aircraft does not need a power of attorney to exercise such a right. Deregistration and export powers of attorney are revocable and grantable to more than one attorney. Such powers of attorney do not survive the grantor’s insolvency, as, when declared insolvent, he or she is deprived of the ability to dispose of any of his or her property. Powers of attorney are not registered per se, but are duly submitted to the registry and any other public authority involved, along with any other required documents.
Cape Town Convention and IDERA
If the Cape Town Convention is in effect in the jurisdiction, describe any notable features of the irrevocable deregistration and export request authorisation (IDERA) process.
This is not applicable, as Greece has not ratified the Cape Town Convention.
Security document (mortgage) form and content
What is the typical form of a security document over the aircraft and what must it contain?
The usual language of a security document (mortgage) is Greek; English is also acceptable. A security document in any other language must be accompanied by its official, certified and accurate translation in Greek. The right to establish a mortgage on an aircraft is granted via a written unilateral statement of its owner or a contract between the owner and the mortgagee, in the form of either a private or notarial document, which is then registered with the relevant mortgage registry kept with the Greek Aircraft Registry of the GCAA.
For the registration of a security document drawn up abroad, the document must be certified by the competent consular authority.
The security document must comprise:
- the name, surname, nationality, residence or domicile and profession of both the person or legal entity granting the right to mortgage and the mortgagee;
- details of the secured claim, the end time and the contractual interest;
- the title of acquisition of ownership over the aircraft that is mortgaged, description of the aircraft and its engines, its nationality and registry marks; and
- the appointment of an attorney residing in the place where the mortgage registry is kept.
Security documentary requirements and costs
What are the documentary formalities for creation of an enforceable security over an aircraft? What are the documentary costs?
The documentary formalities for the creation of an enforceable security over an aircraft consist of certification and the notarisation and legalisation of the signatures of the signing parties by following the formalities provided by domestic Greek law for documents executed in Greece or by the Hague Convention 1961. Documentary costs, mainly in the form of notarial dues, vary, depending on the amount of the secured claim, and are in the region of 2 per cent of the claim.
Security registration requirements
Must the security document be filed with the aviation authority or any other registry as a condition to its effective creation or perfection against the debtor and third parties? Summarise the process to register a mortgagee interest.
The security document must be entered with the aircraft registry as a condition of the security’s effectiveness and validity against the debtor and third parties.
The person applying for the registration of a mortgage must produce the relevant title (declaration for the granting of the mortgage title in the form of private or notarial document), together with a summary of the title in duplicate and the supporting documentation required. Other than this, the same formalities as described in questions 8 and 9 apply. The cost for the filing of a petition with the registry claiming the inscription of a mortgage on an aircraft or engine is €500.
Registration of security
How is registration of a security interest certified?
Registration of a security interest is confirmed via an appropriate certificate issued by the Aircraft Registry. This certificate states the rank (priority) of the security interest. The certificate can be immediately available against an extra charge.
Effect of registration of a security interest
What is the effect of registration as to third parties?
The effects of registration are (i) priority ranking over subsequent security interests; (ii) prohibition of sale of a mortgaged aircraft in the case that its transfer would lead to the loss of its Greek nationality; and (iii) interruption of the time-bar. Crucial for the priority of the registered security interest over other subsequently registered securities is the day of registration. There is no priority notice system in place. Third parties can rely on the accuracy of the public registration of the security interest.
Security structure and alteration
How is security over aircraft and leases typically structured? What are the consequences of changes to the security or its beneficiaries?
The concept of trust is not recognised in Greek jurisdiction. The security (mortgage) under Greek law is a right in rem. In the case of a loan transfer, the new lender may be substituted for the original lender and the existing securities are transferred to the former by agreement between them without the need for new security registrations.
Security over spare engines
What form does security over spare engines typically take and how does it operate?
Article 53 of GALC specifically provides for the possibility to register a mortgage on spare engines (ie, engines that are not installed or are installed on a host aircraft), on the condition that they are independently registered with the (spare) Engines Registry kept by the Greek Aircraft Registry. In the case of a security interest (mortgage) over a financed aircraft, the latter and its engines are treated as a single item of property (ie, when an engine is integrated in an aircraft, it is considered as its component). For a security interest to be effectively created over an engine that is also in the jurisdiction but is not installed on the aircraft, the non-installed engine must be already registered with the relevant Engines Registry kept by the GCAA. The owner of such an engine burdened with a mortgage has the right, unless there is a contrary agreement, to place the engine on an aircraft of his or her ownership, also burdened with a mortgage, as security of the same claim. In this case, (i) the engine’s mortgage is extinguished upon the engine’s installation on the aircraft and revives upon the engine’s detachment from the aircraft; and (ii) the engine’s installation on an aircraft is not a ground for deregistration of the separate engine mortgage from the relevant book of engine mortgages. If the mortgage on the aircraft is extinguished while the engine is installed, thus being its component, the mortgage on the engine is extinguished as well.
Repossession following lease termination
Outline the basic repossession procedures following lease termination. How may the lessee lawfully impede the owner’s rights to exercise default remedies?
After lease termination, the lessee is obliged to deliver the aircraft to his or her contractual counterpart, owner or lessor. Nevertheless, if the lessee fails to comply with this obligation, the owner or lessor may exercise the self-help remedy provided in a notarial lease contract and seek its enforcement against the lessee. If the lease agreement is a private contract and not enforceable per se, there are no self-help remedies available to the owner or lessor, who may only proceed to claim repossession by following the Greek law provisions on enforcement of his or her rights as such. These require pursuing and obtaining an enforceable judgment against the lessee through legal proceedings before the competent Greek civil court. Such a judgment is vested in the form of enforcement and is served upon the lessee via a competent court bailiff, ordering him or her to return possession of the aircraft to the owner or lessor. If the lessee fails to comply, the court bailiff expels the lessee from the possession of the aircraft, which he or she hands over to the owner or lessor. These steps are recorded in an enforcement report, which is served without delay upon the administrator of the airport where the aircraft is situated. It is self-evident that the enforcement procedure outlined above presupposes the previous arrest of the aircraft.
The lessee may lawfully impede the owner’s rights to exercise default remedies only if he or she can prove that the aircraft is defective and as a result it has caused damages to the lessee while the lease was running, due to delays in the performance of scheduled flights, etc.
Enforcement of security
Outline the basic measures to enforce a security interest. How may the owner lawfully impede the mortgagee’s right to enforce?
If a security (mortgage) on an aircraft is given by notarial deed, which is expressly enforceable, the mortgagee may proceed to enforcement against the aircraft without a court order. If the security is given by a private non-enforceable agreement, it will be necessary for the mortgagee to pursue an enforceable court order, which will give him or her the right to enforce his or her interest against the aircraft.
Enforcement on aircraft may take place by applying the general provisions of the Greek Code of Civil Procedure (GCCP) on enforcement and execution (articles 904 to 940) and the specific provisions of articles 992 to 1016 of the same Code ‘on attachment of the debtor’s immovable property, ships or aircraft’.
An aircraft may be detained provisionally by way of an ex parte application.
In the case of insolvency, a creditor’s enforcement rights are suspended and must follow the procedures provided by Greek law on insolvency.
Priority liens and rights
Which liens and rights will have priority over aircraft ownership or an aircraft security interest? If an aircraft can be taken, seized or detained, is any form of compensation available to an owner or mortgagee?
The liens that have priority over an aircraft or aircraft security interest (mortgage) are (i) costs and fees relating to salvage and rescue; (ii) extraordinary and necessary expenses for the aircraft’s maintenance; and (iii) charges, dues and air navigation taxes that burden the aircraft (article 74 section 2 GALC). Liens are also exercised on the insurance indemnity for the damage to or loss of the insured aircraft if the creditor notifies the insurer of the amount of his or her claim within 30 days of the occurrence (article 78, section 2 of GALC). Liens are not exercised on freight, nor on various inducements owed to the owner of the aircraft, either for contribution to joint average, or for effected salvage or rescue. The aforementioned liens are extinguished (i) on the aircraft’s sale in public auction; or (ii) after the lapse of three months since the claim arose.
Aircraft may be seized as a means of enforcement of a private claim. The seizure of an aircraft entails prohibition of take-off. When the decision ordering confiscation becomes irrevocable, the ownership of a confiscated aircraft passes to the Greek state. No compensation is available to an owner or mortgagee.
Enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards
How are judgments of foreign courts enforced? Is your jurisdiction party to the 1958 New York Convention?
With regard to judgments issued by the courts of other EU member states, Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012 on jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters applies. More particularly, as per the provisions comprised in Chapter III, section 2 of the above Regulation on enforcement (articles 39 to 44), a judgment issued in a member state, which in that same member state is enforceable, shall be enforceable in the other member states without the requirement of any declaration of enforceability (article 39). An enforceable judgment shall carry with it, by operation of law, the power to proceed to any protective measures which exist under the law of the member state addressed (article 40).
According to Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012, the procedure for the enforcement in Greece of judgments issued in another member state, shall be governed by Greek law. A judgment issued in a member state, which is enforceable in that state, shall be enforced (in Greece) under the same conditions as those applying to a judgment that was issued in Greece (article 41 paragraph 1).
For the purposes of enforcement in a member state, and, in our case, in Greece, of a judgment issued in another member state, the applicant shall provide the competent enforcement authority with (i) a copy of the judgment that satisfies the conditions necessary to establish its authenticity, and (ii) a certificate confirming that the judgment is enforceable, containing an extract of the judgment as well as, where appropriate, relevant information on the recoverable costs of the proceedings and the calculation of interest (article 42 paragraph 1). Where enforcement of a judgment issued in another member state is sought, the aforementioned certificate shall be served on the person or legal entity against whom the enforcement is sought prior to the first enforcement measure. The certificate shall be accompanied by the judgment, if the latter is not already served on that person or legal entity (article 43 paragraph 1).
If enforcement is sought for judgments issued in a non-EU member state jurisdiction, then article 905 of the GCCP shall apply. According to this, provisions of international treaties to which Greece is a member state and to EU regulations, an enforcement of foreign court judgment is possible in Greece, under the condition that this judgment is declared enforceable via a Greek court decision issued by the one member court of first instance of the residential or the headquarters’ district of the debtor. The aforementioned competent court shall issue its decision according to the Rules on Non-Contentious Jurisdiction Procedure provided in articles 740 to 781 GCCP. According to article 905 paragraph 3 GCCP, the prerequisite for the declaration by the Greek courts of the enforceability of a foreign (non-EU) court decision is that the conditions explicitly set out in article 323 paragraphs 2 to 5 GCCP are met. More specifically, a foreign, non-EU court judgment shall be declared enforceable:
- if the subject case was according to the provisions of GCCP subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the state where the court that issued the judgment belongs;
- if the defeated litigant party was not deprived of its right to defend itself and, generally, of its right to participate in the trial, except for the case where the deprivation of such a right took place according to a specific legal provision applicable to the citizens of the state of the court that issued the judgment; and
- if the judgment is not contrary to fair practices or public order. (It should be noted that there is no different treatment relating to the enforcement in Greece of English and New York Court judgments).
As far as the enforcement of arbitral awards is concerned, article 906 GCCP applies, according to which foreign arbitral judgments are declared enforceable in the same way as foreign court judgments are, (ie, via a court decision issued by the one member court of first instance of the residential or the headquarters’ district of the debtor). The aforementioned competent court shall issue its decision according to the same Non-Contentious Jurisdiction Procedure provided by articles 740-781 GCCP. Additionally, though, in the case of foreign arbitral judgments, all six prerequisites explicitly set out by article 903 GCCP must collectively concur. More particularly, an arbitral judgment or award may be declared enforceable in Greece:
- if the relevant arbitration agreement, upon which the issuance of the arbitral award is based, is valid under the provisions of the governing law;
- if the object of the arbitral judgment may be the object of an arbitration agreement according to Greek law;
- if the judgment is not subject to an appeal or recourse, or there is no pending procedure questioning the validity of the arbitral judgment;
- if the defeated party was not deprived of the right of defence during the arbitration procedure;
- if the arbitral judgment in question is not contrary to a Greek court judgment issued in the same case, thus consisting in a res judicata for the parties among which this arbitral judgment was issued; and
- if the judgment is not contrary to public order or fair practices.
Greece is a party to the New York Convention of 1958, which it ratified via legislative decree No. 4220/1961, under the condition of the two limitations set forth in the Convention’s article I(3).
Taxes and payment restrictions
What taxes may apply to aviation-related lease payments, loan repayments and transfers of aircraft? How may tax liability be lawfully minimised?
Mobile assets that are the object of financial leasing, either per ownership or per possession, and consist in means of transport (aircraft, inter alia) are not exempted from income tax, VAT and other taxes and levies in favour of the Greek state (article 6, section 1, Law 1665/1986). As far as VAT is concerned, there are specific provisions on aircraft (article 27, sections 1(b) to 1(e) of the Greek VAT Code (Law 2859/2000)), according to which delivery and import of aircraft destined for use by the armed forces and the state or destined for scrap, or operation by airline companies that execute mainly international carriage against airfare and their income from international carriage exceeds the 50 per cent of their annual turnover, are exempted from VAT. Leasing of private use aircraft destined for leisure or sport is not exempt from VAT. Exemption from VAT also applies to delivery or import of materials and spare parts to be used by aircraft that are exempt from VAT. No VAT is due on delivery and import of fuel, victuals, lubricants and other goods destined for the supply of aircraft that are exempt from VAT. Leasing of aircraft is exempt from VAT, provided that it is made for the aircraft’s further exploitation, whereas the leasing of a leisure aircraft is not exempt from VAT. Finally, also exempt from VAT are aircraft building, modification or alteration, and restoration and repair works, as well as similar works on objects and parts incorporated in the aircraft or being used for the operation of aircraft that are exempt from VAT. Delivery of aircraft leased by a Greek airline, when the seller and buyer are not established in Greece, is exempted from VAT provided that the aircraft is disposed for exclusive use (as in the case of lease) by an airline company that is exempted from VAT as per article 148.e of Directive 2006/112/EC. If the aircraft is not in Greece during its transfer, the transfer is not subject to VAT payment in Greece, but the contractual parties shall have to examine their eventual obligations for VAT payment in the country where the aircraft actually is. For the transfer’s registration in the Greek Aircraft Registry, one should submit, inter alia, any document certifying the location of the aircraft during its transfer. The CAA notifies the lessee’s competent Public Fiscal Office of the realisation of the transfer, mentioning the particulars of both the seller and buyer, as well as the location of the aircraft during its transfer.
The sale of aircraft is generally subject to Greek import VAT of 24 per cent when the delivery of the aircraft, originating from a non-EU member state, ends in Greece.
With regard to income taxation imposed in the jurisdiction, there are no specific provisions on aircraft. The general provisions applicable on transfers and leasing (article 21, section 1, Law 4172/2013) and on loan repayments (article 23a, Law 4172/2013) are that the profit of a legal entity from the transfer of aircraft, as part of its assets, as well as income from the aircraft’s leasing, is taxed, as income of the company’s legal activity, at the current tax rate of 29 per cent.
Are there any restrictions on international payments and exchange controls in effect in your jurisdiction?
Despite the Ministerial Decision of the Greek Minister of Finance (Government Gazette, Issue B´, No. 4315/28.09.2018) providing updated regulations on restriction issues regarding withdrawal and transfer of funds, in the frame of a gradual relaxation of capital controls, there are still restrictions on international payments in Greece. Exemptions from the above restrictions apply to funds that have been transferred in Greece from abroad.
Transfers of funds from bank accounts kept in a foreign bank to an account kept in a bank operating in Greece are allowed without any restrictions.
Transfers of funds abroad are not allowed, unless they fall under the exemptions and approvals elaborated on a daily basis by the banks’ Special Subcommittees and the Hellenic Banks’ Transactions Approval Committee.
The following transactions, though, are freely allowed, inter alia, without the prerequisite approval of the aforementioned Special Subcommittees or the Hellenic Banks’ Transactions Approval Committee:
- the acceptance and execution by banks of mandates for the transfer abroad of funds up to the amount of €4,000 per customer ID for every two months as of 1 July 2018 onwards, up to the monthly limit in euros for the entirety of banks operating in Greece and accepting deposits, whose (monthly limit) is specified and allotted to each bank by the Hellenic Banks’ Transactions Approval Committee;
- transactions of legal entities or traders and professionals effected abroad, in the frame of their business activities, that do not exceed the amount of €100,000 each, daily and per customer, after submission of copies of invoices and other supporting documents. This material must be accompanied by a solemn statement, where the applying legal entities or individuals shall declare that the produced documents are genuine and have not been submitted to any other bank. These transactions shall be carried out directly through the network of branches kept by the banks by transfer to the bank account of the counterparty and shall be included in the weekly limit set out by the Hellenic Banks’ Transactions Approval Committee for each bank.
Otherwise, and for all other cases, the process for the submission and approval of petitions for the transfer of funds abroad on the part of legal entities and traders/professionals in the frame of their business activities is regulated by Decision No. 26/15.11.2017 (Government Gazette Issue B´, No. 4050/20.11.2017) of the Hellenic Banks’ Transactions Approval Committee. According to article 6 of this Decision, the approval process and required documents have as follows:
- for the examination of petitions for the transfer abroad of amounts ranging from €20,001 to €40,000, the customer’s petition must be accompanied by the invoices and documentary evidence concerning this specific transaction, a solemn declaration of the customer where he or she shall declare, inter alia, that the produced invoices, documents and supporting evidence are genuine, that the petitioner has not submitted for approval by another bank operating in Greece the same supporting documents for the transfer of funds abroad, and that the petitioner accepts that the eventual approval of his or her petition shall be valid for 12 working days from its notification; and
- for the examination of petitions for the transfer abroad of amounts higher than €40,000, the customer’s petition, in addition to the aforementioned prerequisites, must also be accompanied by a reference to the amount to be transferred abroad, aggregated with the amount previously approved within the same month.
For the evaluation of petitions falling under the approving authority of the special subcommittees of the banks operating in Greece, these (petitions) must be clear and should be accompanied by all the supporting documentary evidence required, adequately substantiating the nature and necessity of the transactions. Each special subcommittee establishes a procedure for the management and prioritisation of the customers’ filed petitions, taking under consideration the payment time frame (for example, due invoices, pro forma, cash on delivery etc), and, in cases of import, the nature of the imported goods and their necessity for the preservation of public and social interests.
Are there any limitations on the amount of default interest that can be charged on lease or loan payments?
There are no such costs imposed: as per the European Commission’s Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1821 of 6 October 2016, amending Annex I to Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2658/87, civil aircraft are explicitly provided with relief from customs duties. This relief is subject to the conditions laid down in the relevant EU provisions with a view to making possible the customs control of such goods, as per article 254 of (EU) Regulation 952/2013.
Customs, import and export
Are there any costs to bring the aircraft into the jurisdiction or take it out of the jurisdiction? Does the liability attach to the owner or mortgagee?
There are no such costs imposed: as per the European Commission’s Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1821 of 6 October 2016, amending Annex I to Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2658/87, civil aircraft are explicitly provided with relief from customs duties. This relief is subject to the conditions laid down in the relevant EU provisions with a view to making possible the customs control of such goods, as per article 254 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 952/2013.
Insurance and reinsurance
Summarise any captive insurance regime in your jurisdiction as applicable to aviation.
Liability insurance is not only compulsory as per EU and Greek law, but is also a prerequisite for an aircraft to be operated in Greece. Any lawful interest exposed to aviation risks, inclusive of expected profit, may be the subject of aviation insurance (article 129 of GALC). Insurance cover of an air carrier’s liability for damages deriving from a contract of carriage to passengers, goods or luggage is compulsory (article 137, section 1 of GALC). Any aircraft operator should also insure his or her eventual liability for damages caused to crew members or other persons on board the aircraft for the service of a flight, as well as to third parties on the ground (article 137, section 2 of GALC). The aircraft’s insurance cover is also compulsory and extends to the aircraft’s hull, its components and parts (article 131 of GALC). Thus, the most usual kinds of aviation insurance in Greek jurisdiction are (i) liability insurance for damages caused to passengers or crew members on board the aircraft during its operation or to third parties on the ground; (ii) casualty or accident insurance; and (iii) hull insurance, covering damage caused to the aircraft. There is no domestic requirement that insurance should necessarily be placed in Greek jurisdiction. Special legislation specifies the minimum percentage of the insurance, with the reservation of articles 110 and 112 of GALC (article 137, section 4 of GALC). No single local captive insurer is used; risks may be spread among more than one insurance companies.
Are cut-through clauses under the insurance and reinsurance documentation legally effective?
Yes, cut-through clauses are legally effective, depending on the exact content of each specific agreement.
Are assignments of reinsurance (by domestic or captive insurers) legally effective? Are assignments of reinsurance typically provided on aviation leasing and finance transactions?
Yes, assignments of reinsurance are, in general, legally effective, subject to the specific provisions of the assignment agreement, and may also be provided on aviation leasing and finance transactions.
Can an owner, lessor or financier be liable for the operation of the aircraft or the activities of the operator?
The aircraft’s operator and its owner are jointly liable for damages caused to third parties on the ground by the aircraft while in flight or by a person or object that fell from it (article 117 GALC - see also article 1 of the Rome Convention 1952). The operator’s obligation to compensation cannot exceed triple the aircraft’s value, if this was new on the day of the incident, whereas the owner’s liability does not exceed the actual value of the aircraft on the day of the occurrence (article 119, section 1 of GALC). In the case of an aircraft collision, the operator of the liable aircraft is liable for the damages caused (article 121, section 1 of GALC). Contributory negligence of the damaged person may reduce or even lift liability of the owner and operator (article 118 GALC). The operator is obliged to insure his or her liability for damages caused to passengers or crew members, as well as for damages caused to third parties on the ground (article 137, section 2 GALC). Violation of this obligation is a criminal offence (article 165 GALC). Except for the aforementioned cases, the owner is liable only when he or she is also the operator (ie, operates his or her own aircraft) or is the air carrier (Montreal Convention 1999, article 17 seq). Lessors or financiers are not liable.
Does the jurisdiction adopt a regime of strict liability for owners, lessors, financiers or others with no operational interest in the aircraft?
See question 33.
Third-party liability insurance
Are there minimum requirements for the amount of third-party liability cover that must be in place?
Yes. As per article 6, section 1 of Regulation (EC) No. 785/2004, the minimum insurance cover for liability in respect of passengers is 250,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) per passenger. However, in respect of non-commercial operations by aircraft with a MTOW of 2,700kg or less, member states may set a lower level of minimum insurance cover, provided that such cover is at least 100,000 SDRs per passenger. According to article 1, sections 2 and 3 respectively of Regulation (EU) No. 285/2010, amending the aforementioned Regulation (EU) No. 785/2004, for liability in respect of baggage, the minimum insurance cover is 1,131 SDRs per passenger in commercial operations, whereas for liability in respect of cargo, the minimum insurance cover is 19 SDRs per kilogram.