The employment courts recently expanded the scope of the rights and privileges granted to employees who exercise their right to request a reduction of their working hours, including to take care of a child under 12 years old. A recent Supreme Court decision represents another step forward in recognising these rights when employees are dismissed and the dismissal is declared null and void by an employment court.
Absenteeism costs Spanish companies approximately €77 billion a year and has become such a pressing issue that the Ministry of Finance has announced measures to combat it in the public sector. Companies must be proactive in implementing measures and controls to reduce absenteeism in order to raise employee awareness of such impact and enable them to avoid the implementation of coercive measures.
A recent judgment of the Andalusia High Court is the first decision in Spain to expressly declare that women and men are entitled to receive the same salary when performing similar functions and responsibilities, unless the company provides objective grounds, unrelated to gender, to justify the salary inequalities. It is advisable for companies to review their salary policies in order to identify employee remunerations that could be considered discriminatory.
The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that the installation of hidden surveillance cameras by a Spanish company without informing its employees infringed Article 8 of the Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (employees' right to respect for privacy and human dignity). This ruling serves as a reminder that before installing hidden surveillance cameras, companies must analyse all of the applicable circumstances.
The Ministry of Culture and Sports recently fined a website owner under the Consolidated Text of the IP Act for allowing users to download various copyrighted content from Spain. Although several similar websites had been taken down prior to this case, this was the first time that an economic fine of this magnitude was imposed. The main reason for this was that the administrative infringement in this case was classified as 'very severe'.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed a trial court judgment which had sentenced the defendant for a crime against intellectual property in accordance with the Criminal Code. For more than 15 years, the infringer had commercialised various products featuring the FC Barcelona trademarks, which he acquired from an official licensee. However, in 2013 the defendant had also begun commercialising illicitly traded products alongside the genuine products.
The Council of Ministers recently approved a preliminary draft law which will partially amend the Trademark Act in order to incorporate the EU Trademark Directive. Ahead of the parliamentary approval procedure, various consulting bodies provided their opinions on the draft text. In this regard, the Economic and Social Council and the General Council of the Judiciary both highlighted certain aspects of the preliminary draft law which they believe could be improved.
Barcelona Commercial Court Number 5 recently dismissed a preliminary injunction request filed by Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) regarding the commercialisation of generic medicinal products. The defendants had opposed the request by alleging the invalidity of MSD's supplementary protection certificate (SPC) on the basis that it was invalid according to the EU SPC for Medicinal Products Regulation.
The Zaragoza Court of Appeal recently issued a ruling confirming a trial court judgment which had sentenced two defendants for importing several thousand counterfeit t-shirts from China. In their appeal against the trial court's condemnatory judgment, the defendants had argued that the trial court erred in assessing the evidence, that there had been a break in the custody chain of the seized goods, that one of the defendants had not participated in the importation and that there had been no consumer error.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed the Barcelona Commercial Court 8 decision which upheld L'Oréal's revocation action against Laboratorios Genesse's AFTERSUN mark. L'Oréal had filed the revocation action against the mark due to its popularisation in the Spanish market. Laboratorios Genesse had filed a counterclaim alleging that L'Oréal's use of the expressions 'after sun' and 'after-sun' infringed its trademark rights.
The Supreme Court recently analysed the differences between compensatory and punitive penalty clauses in lease agreements and established the requirements for the latter to be valid. The court also ruled that a punitive penalty clause's amount cannot be reduced simply because the lessor enters into a new lease agreement immediately after recovering possession of the commercial premises.
Although Article 348bis was included in the Companies Act in 2011, its application was suspended until January 2017. Due to the constant delays in the provision's implementation, there is little case law on the matter and a lack of harmonised criteria for interpreting the provision and applying the right recognised therein. A recent A Coruna Court of Appeals decision on this matter is therefore significant, particularly because it analyses two questions which are likely to arise from the article's application.
A trade union recently sought to declare the existence of a de facto collective dismissal on the grounds that the company had exceeded the maximum number of individual objective dismissals (as well as other comparable terminations) in a 180-day period. However, the Supreme Court rejected the claim and ratified several points regarding collective challenges of terminations that, de facto, could exceed the thresholds.
The Supreme Court recently considered whether the cancellation of a company with the Companies Registry removes its legal capacity or only limits it for the purposes of covering the debts that appear after such cancellation, in which case the company could be sued. Another issue that this ruling clarifies is who should represent such a company in court.
In a June 2016 decision the Supreme Court applied the previous International Merchant Shipping Act 1949 to establish which party was responsible for damages incurred during the unloading of goods. The case centred on whether the transport of goods from the ship to the unloading area constituted land or maritime transport, which in turn would determine whether the claim for damages was subject to an expiration or a prescription period.
Due to the differences between continental and common law, the Spanish courts have found it difficult to distinguish between the legal concepts of 'wilful misconduct' and 'gross negligence'. In recent years, the courts have issued rulings exploring these concepts in a number of cases involving the theft of goods during carriage. Specifically, two 2015 Supreme Court judgments have clarified and consolidated the concepts.
The Insolvency Act is based on the principle of universality with regard to assets and liabilities. However, certain credits – including maritime privileged credits – must be separated from a bankruptcy estate, resulting in a breach of this principle. Ultimately, if a maritime privileged credit is exercised against the ship of a party undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, the creditor or owner of the credit can separate the ship from the bankruptcy estate if the liquidation of assets phase has yet to commence.
The Spanish courts have increasingly dismissed cargo claims brought by cargo owners or their subrogated underwriters, citing a lack of jurisdiction due to the inclusion of a jurisdiction clause in the bill of lading. However, in some cases, the courts have followed this trend without performing a strict analysis of the jurisdiction clause in question, thereby accepting clauses of questionable validity.