New developments in Spanish court’s jurisdiction about commercial issues

Since 14 January 2022, the Draft Organic Law amending Organic Law 6/1985, of 1 July 1985, on the Judiciary, in relation to Commercial Courts, has been in the amendment phase.

The publication of this law will significantly modifies the competences and the distribution of matters currently attributed to the Commercial Courts and the specialized sections of the Provincial Courts throughout Spain.

Specifically, the modifications will be as follows:

Firstly, the Courts of First Instance, to the detriment of the Commercial Courts, will hear collective actions referring to general contracting conditions and consumer protection.

They will also hear matters concerning compensation and assistance to air passengers in the event of denied boarding and flight cancellations or long delays; the rights and obligations of rail passengers; the rights of bus and coach passengers; and the rights of passengers travelling by sea or inland waterway.

Secondly, in provincial capitals where there are more than five Commercial Courts, at least two of them will hear exclusively applications for the declaration of insolvency of natural persons. In the case of those capital cities with more than one court and less than five, the distribution of these cases will be exclusive to one of them. The Draft Law only refers to those cases in which the insolvent party is a natural person who is not an entrepreneur.

Likewise, in the second instance there will be this correspondence in such a way that there may be specialized Courts and Sections specialized exclusively in insolvency proceedings or specialized in intellectual and industrial property, unfair competition and advertising.

As regards the specialization of the Courts in intellectual property matters, it would not be possible to assume new exclusive jurisdiction in these matters in those places where there are no more than five Commercial Courts. Therefore, in principle, it is only possible to specialize in the Courts and Sections of the Provincial Courts of Madrid and Barcelona, as these are the only two provincial capitals that meet the qualifying requirement for specialization.

Thirdly and finally, this reform gives the specialized Sections of the Provincial Courts jurisdiction to hear appeals brought against decisions of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office in industrial property matters that exhaust administrative remedies. In this regard, only the Sections of the Provincial Courts of Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia could have this jurisdiction, as they are the only specialized courts at the moment.

Finally, it should be remembered that 14 January 2023 is the date on which the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office will be empowered to declare the invalidity and revocation of distinctive signs regulated in the Trademark Act.