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Transportation Law Definition
Transportation law is the body of regulations, customs, and general principles of jurisprudence governing the relationships arising from a transportation contract and the regulation of the transportation activity.
For the purpose of the definition of transportation law, we will not deal with maritime law, as this mode of transportation has its own definition on this publication.
A transportation contract is an agreement pursuant to which one party undertakes to carry something or somebody to a destination against payment of a price. The contract defines the rights and liabilities of the parties and it is typically supported by a transport document. Depending on the kind of transportation, this transport document will receive a particular name (e. g. bill of lading, airway bill, consignment note, etc.) and will have different legal attributes.
In Spain, transportation is heavily regulated by administrative legislation. The most important Statutes regulating the different modes of transportation are the following:
• Road transportation: The main statute on this area of the law is the Act for Regulation of Land Transportation (enacted by Act 16/1987, dated 30 July) establishes the national regulatory framework for transportation by road activities. This Act is further developed by the Regulation on Land Transportation (enacted by Royal Decree 1211/1990, dated 28 September).
• Rail transportation: The principal statute in this matter is the Act on the Rail Sector (enacted by Act 38/2015, dated 29 September) which, among others issues, implements the EU Directive 2012/34/UE.
• Air transportation: The most important national statutes regulating air transportation in Spain are the Air Navigation Act (enacted by Act 48/1960, dated 21 July) and the Aviation Security Act (enacted by Act 21/2003, dated 7 July). However, it is particularly important in this sector the legal regime promulgated by the European Union, being, probably, one of the most important, the EC Regulation 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community and the EC Regulation 216/2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency.
From a private law perspective, the most important legislation on transportation contracts depending on the relevant means of transport would be:
• Land (road and rail) transportation: From a national perspective, the most important act would be the Act on the Contract for the Carriage of Goods by Road (enacted by Act 15/2009, dated 11 November). From an international point of view, and (a) regarding road transport of goods, Spain is a State Member to the 1956 Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR), as amended by 1978 Protocol and 2008 Additional Protocol while (b) rail transport of goods and passengers and their luggage is ruled by the Convention concerning the International Carriage by Rail approved by the Vilnius Protocol of 3 June, 1999. Additionally, transport of passenger shall be rule by the EU Regulation 181/2011 concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport and by the EC Regulation 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations.
• Air transportation: From a national perspective, national contract of carriage of good by air is regulated in the above mentioned Air Navigation Act while international air carriage, is usually ruled by the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air of 28 May, 1999 (residual, it could be subject to the “Warsaw System”). Transport of passenger is ruled by this Montreal Convention and by the EU Regulation 889/2002 amending EC Regulation 2027/97 on air carrier liability in the event of accidents (and also by EC Regulation 261/2004 on common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers).
Normally, lawyers specialized in transportation law deal with both regulatory and private aspects of the law. Accordingly, a transportation lawyer shall be aware of the regulatory framework and also be a litigator to defend the position of is client on a dispute under a transportation agreement.
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