An interview with Albors, Galiano Portales, a 2018 "Law Firm of the Year" in Spain.
What characteristics does your firm have that you believe led to its recognition as a “Law Firm of the Year”?
We think it has been recognized for its continued success in leading the Spanish market for more than a decade. In a world that moves faster and faster every day, we remain committed to our core values: excellence, commitment, and responsiveness. Our clients value the fact that every single problem is looked at from every possible angle and every detail, however small, is analyzed with great care, always toward the same goal, achieving whatever our client wants to achieve during every step of the process. This approach to work means clients come to us with the most challenging, high-profile cases in Spain.
We also have the trust and confidence of some of Spain’s leading players in the transportation industry, which are at the forefront of innovation in the market and means we have to deal with problems that no one has faced before, forcing us to design innovative solutions. This know-how we acquire is invaluable and is our most valued treasure.
What are some trends over the past year that you’ve noticed in transportation law that are specific to Spain?
We have certainly noticed an upbeat in the transactions in the industry after many years of contraction. Spain remains a very significant player in Europe in the ports and terminals and aviation industry due to its strategic location within Europe. On the shipping side, we have seen a real attempt to attract more owners to the Spanish Second Registry in the Canary Islands. There is a clear intention to be in a position to compete with registries, such as Madeira. Unfortunately, funding and a somewhat rigid legislative framework continue to be the biggest hurdles.
Have there been any major changes in transportation law in Spain recently? If so, how has your firm worked to adapt to them?
In 2014, we saw a major change in Spanish legislative transport framework with the enactment of the new Spanish Shipping Act in which the firm acted for the Spanish Shipowners’ Association and the International Group of P&I Clubs. Three years later, there are a lot of issues that remain to be tested before the courts, so we are still in the middle of a steep learning curve, which is always challenging. Our involvement in the process of enactment of the act puts us in a good position to adapt quickly to the new case law tendencies and judicial interpretation of the act, but we keep all developments at very close sight to ensure we can react, if not anticipate, potential changes.
We would also highlight an important case in which the firm was involved for owners and P&I insurers, which is the Modern Express, one of the first successful ports of refugee cases in Europe after the entry into force of the European Operational Guidelines. The Spanish authorities granted refuge to a vessel that had a substantial list and was drifting under very difficult weather conditions. This case is an example of how public administrations and private entities can work hand-to-hand to successfully solve what was a complex and dangerous distress situation.
We cannot fail to mention the extraordinary work of the Maritime Safety and Rescue Society (SASEMAR), Spain’s maritime rescue body, for their extraordinary work in ensuring everyone was airlifted safe in extreme weather conditions.
In what ways do you see the practice area changing in coming years? What about the firm?
In recent years we have seen how technology can expose operators to risks they had never faced before and which are unpredictable in form and size. Transport is no exception; we have already seen cyberattacks disrupting the operations of transport and logistics giants. Also, the use of technology to ensure more efficient processes in the legal industry is already a reality. Firms will need to adapt to this completely new problem and invest in technology and resources to be able to cope with this rapidly-changing environment. AGP has therefore started this year with a long-term investment plan in technology to ensure we are ready to meet with our client’s expectations.
In the coming years, we see ourselves as a more modern and more efficient firm with the use of technology, but remaining always loyal to our core value, as we can never lose sight of the fact these values are the ones that have made as a leading player in our practice areas.