SPANISH INSURANCE LAW
We are infamously strong in the area of insurance law
- Ramallo Pallast & Partners is one of the leading specialists in Spanish insurance law. We are completely familiar with all areas of insurance and reinsurance law, including the laws on maritime insurance.
- We are the go-to contact for German-speaking and international insurers whenever legal disputes in Spain are involved. We operate a programme of close co-operation for this purpose, with leading law firms specialised in the legal aspects of insurance from various countries.
- One important advantage offered by our experts is their thorough knowledge of German insurance law, which also allows them to better understand the problems and special needs of our clients from a German perspective. This advantage ensures a carefully fine-tuned operation within a Spanish legal framework.
- Our range of services likewise includes the customisation and provision of insurance products and advice on insurance-related issues, including compliance, M&A, insolvency law, tax legislation and rules affecting competition, along with other areas.
- We also act as representatives in the process of negotiations in matters such as major claims for loss and damage and legal disputes. We offer extensive expertise in the formal and out-of-court settlement of disputes in this respect, particularly in cases involving domestic and international legal and arbitration proceedings.
- The German Insurance Association (GDV) has been recommending us as a trusted professional contact in Spain since 1996. Leading insurance firms worldwide entrust us to deal with complex claims for loss and damage that require a high level of expertise and experience in conducting litigation.
- Our knowledge of German law allows our German-speaking clients to feel at home even when in Spain. The resulting trust-based client relationship arises not only from the honed linguistical skills of our legal specialists, but also from our deep knowledge of the German way of doing things, which allows us to engage with the specific needs of each client. It is for this reason that we have more than 20 years’ experience of long-term relationships with virtually all the major insurers operating in all branches of the German and other European countries insurance market.
The international aspect of commercial relationships and business activities, coupled with the global distribution of brands and products, increasingly requires a worldwide approach to defence and coordination whenever complex claims for damages arise. We act as your specialised contact for Spain and Latin America in this respect.
Our familiarity with the key aspects of German liability and insurance law means that we can cooperate seamlessly with colleagues based in other countries, with whom we work as a large team when representing interests based in Spain. We can intervene in damage and injury claims on any scale and in any sector. Our experience and specialist knowledge have allowed us to deliver successful outcomes over recent years in various major cases involving liability. We can, when appearing in Spanish courts of law, present the case from a German perspective, while taking into account the peculiarities and intricacies of German liability and insurance law. Our understanding of this German point of view means that we can guarantee smooth integration with local legal practices in Spain, without losing any of the important details along the way. This point is critical.
We offer initial advice based on a risk analysis and an out-of-court approach, and can also provide legal representation before any Spanish court of law.
We are currently engaged, in the legal area of international liability and damage claims, in various complex cases and class actions involving the intervention of our international desk specialised in Latin America and our monitoring mandate service. We work with leading insurance and law firms worldwide, and have over the years built up a highly efficient network based on personal trust. This benefits our clients when dealing with damage claims; however routine or complex they may be.
The locations of our offices allow them to deal with the logistics of class actions. This measure ensures that even several hundred, simultaneously submitted claims can be dealt with within the very short response time of 20 working days that applies in Spain, and that our clients are kept informed by reports on the progress and development of the proceedings as a whole and of each case in particular.
Our key areas of activity:
- Product liability
The manufacture and delivery of products beyond national borders, and the liability issues that this entails, constitute one of our main areas of work. Our team of experts possess technical knowledge and a specific insight into international law, with particular reference to special European standards applying to product safety, etc. Our work in this area also covers the interaction of international liability issues that concern Spain and Latin America. Our team of lawyers offer extensive experience and expertise regarding the automotive, food, consumer-product, chemicals and medical / pharmaceutical sectors.
We likewise provide specialised organisation and support services, with the high degree of coordination required, whenever international manufacturers operating in Spain and Latin America need to carry out a product recall. We can deal with and coordinate, on request, all communications with the official authorities in this respect. This likewise involves teamwork with experienced communications agencies when conducting the required media-related tasks.
- Medical liability
One of our core skills involves dealing with sensitive questions of liability arising from medical and hospital malpractice claims. We conduct both the out-of-court and legal representation required when dealing with medical-malpractice claims concerning treatment provided in Spain. We act on behalf of social security institutions, dealing with the entire claims-management and recourse process conducted in Spain.
- Environmental liability
We have extensive experience of dealing with cases involving Spanish environmental law. This primarily involves work on behalf of foreign insurers who are the subject of the corresponding claims. Strict liability, which has become a de facto part of Spanish case law, requires a precise and far-sighted approach to the provision of advice and risk analysis.
- Capital market liability
When it comes to this area of rapidly growing importance, our work mainly concerns issues arising from prospectus- and IPO-related liability. We also cover, in parallel to this, liability concerning intermediaries and providers of banking and insurance products, along with the liability of fund initiators and the personal liability of board members of banks and insurance companies, which are all taking on increasing relevance in Spain.
- D&O liability
Our work has also been adapted to conform to new legal realities in Spain in the area of directors’ and officers’ liability. The personal liability of company directors is increasingly the focus of court legal disputes. Directors and board members of German companies with subsidiaries in Spain are, in particular, often unaware of this potential liability. We conduct the defence of such liability claims on behalf of the D&O insurer and/or the director concerned. Given that eight of ten cases of professional and commercial liability in Spain involve insolvency proceedings; our expertise in dealing with such situations provides a considerable advantage.
The client benefits from the high level of litigation experience offered by our legal team. Presentations on this topic delivered in Germany confirm our proven expertise in the area.
HEALTH INSURANCE / RECOURSE OF SOCIAL SECURITY INSTITUTIONS
We take on recourse procedures, throughout Spain, on behalf of health insurers and social security institutions. We specialise in accidents arising in Spain, and the resulting recourse claims on behalf of social security institutions.
Many tourists visiting Spain are injured in road accidents. According to EU regulation 1408/71 and Article 116 of Volume X of the German Social Insurance Code, health insurers are entitled to a recourse claim for expenses against both the responsible party and his or her Spanish insurer.
Given the three-way legal dimension of the relevant provisions (German, Spanish and EU law), health insurers and social security institutions often make only modest use of this right to exercise their legitimate claims in Spain.
There are several reasons for this: It may be due to a lack of required expertise on the part of the legal professionals engaged to conduct the claim, or a lack of incentive regarding the agreed fees.
Even if we avoid Spanish court proceedings wherever possible, this is the path to take in some cases, as Spanish insurers are otherwise likely to pay only a fraction of the recourse claims due. Our many years of expertise in bringing justified claims on behalf of German and other European health insurers in Spain is your guarantee when it comes to the successful enforcement of claims on behalf of foreign social security institutions.
This know-how, which we have been accumulating since the mid-1980s and in the course of in-house training imparted to our employees by one of our senior partners, who was the former head of the international department of the Spanish social security organisation (the INSS), means that we are well-armed in this respect and are able to achieve a high rate of success in terms of recourse settlements by Spanish responsible entities.
Our pre-litigation advice includes the identification and obtaining of the information and documents required for written claims to recourse costs. The realistic likelihood of such a claim succeeding is evaluated in writing before any court proceedings begin. Our extensive experience of litigation in this field, which includes the necessary specialist knowledge of the Spanish private international law and the specific provisions of European law, guarantees that our clients will receive the best possible attention.
We also advise and assist health insurers and payment-protection insurers in insurance-law-related issues, particularly in the areas of:
- Product evaluation, including the development of new general terms and conditions of insurance
- Payment-protection insurance (with cover for disability, death, accident and unemployment)
- Travel accident insurance
MOTOR-VEHICLE INSURANCE / RECOURSE
Our Spanish offices deal with more than a thousand cases every year, involving virtually all companies represented on the market. We make use of this comprehensive experience in all proceedings entrusted to us that involve the following issues:
- Motor-vehicle liability
- Personal injury (both in and out of court)
- Proceedings involving own damage
- Recourse claims
We have specific experience in the beginning-to-end handling of entire cases. The ongoing optimisation of our work structures and processes helps to explain why we can offer high-quality, highly-skilled general and litigation-management services on reasonable terms.
TRANSPORT AND TRANSPORT-LIABILITY INSURANCE
We advise and assist insurance companies in all legal matters concerning transport and transport-liability insurance. Our expertise extends to all issues concerning contractual coverage and the law relating to liability, loss and damage. When it comes to transport insurance, we operate both nationally and internationally including the following areas:
- Transport service providers
- Freight forwarding companies
- Heavy / special transport
Our experience and knowledge of the transport sector, with particular reference to the peculiarities of the Spanish market and legal system, allow us to provide German-speaking and European transport companies and / or their insurers with quick and efficient enforcement and / or defence of their claims in Spain.
Our clients appreciate our fast approach to supplying solutions in this area, which are of particular importance whenever a heavy goods vehicle becomes stranded or detained. Our presence throughout Spain allows us to supply suitable guarantees to the local police within a matter of hours, allowing the vehicle to be released and continue on its way; while ensuring the timely delivery of the goods that it is carrying.
We are much sought-after, as a firm specialising in Spanish and international insurance law, whenever advice regarding legal and contractual issues involving reinsurance is required. One aspect of our work consists of advising reinsurers and assigning parties. Another important focus of activity is our international approach to representation in cross-border disputes heard before Spanish arbitration tribunals and courts of law. We have consolidated expertise at our disposal in the area of WTC arbitration, ICRA disputes, breakthrough rules and the negotiation of securities. Our multilingual specialists possess years of experience in their respective fields.
INTERNATIONAL ADVICE ON INSURANCE LAW / INTERNATIONAL DESK
Our expertise based on many years’ experience, coupled with the fact that we are able to act confidently as insurance lawyers both in Germany and Spain, means that we can be engaged in a trusted legal capacity as expert consultants for the drawing- up of contracts and agreements, cross-border negotiations, arbitration proceedings and acquisitions of Spanish and South American insurers.
We apply our expert bird’s eye view to the tackling of complex legal issues that involve two or more legal systems and can, equipped with our comprehensive knowledge of German and international law, guarantee fast, efficient long-term solutions.
Dispute resolution / we are also at home in Latin America
The globalisation of economic relationships makes it necessary to deal not only with the interactions arising from German-Spanish contacts. Our team of insurance law specialists also acts internationally on behalf of our clients, and assists them in the context of monitoring mandates that involve Latin America and the United States. We can also coordinate our international colleagues on request, while dealing with the entire reporting process.
We have built up a large portfolio of law-related activities in Latin America over more than 20 years, including participation in projects throughout Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Uruguay. These projects involve complex cases of liability, transaction support, dispute settlement, regulatory issues and arbitration proceedings.
RECOURSE CLAIMS IN SPAIN
An important part of our activity is accounted for by representation of the interests of German and European insurers in the enforcement of recourse claims in Spain. We conduct effective local negotiations with Spanish insurers and liable third parties, subject to our provision of previous protection – wherever technically possible – of the opposing party’s assets.
This activity requires a solid grounding in international civil procedural law and Spanish private law, along with comprehensive knowledge of the respective legal systems of Germany and Spain. It is not uncommon for a Spanish court to have to apply German law, particularly when dealing with a case of loss or damage.
The competitive advantage arising from the integration of our team of German and Spanish lawyers offers a decisive benefit when dealing with Spanish bearers of liability. Only someone who has done his homework properly can also drive a hard bargain, while maximising the settlements that take place out of court and thereby avoiding prolonged litigation.
We know, from what our clients have told us, that the enforcement of recourse claims in Spain often fails due to the following obstacles:
Refusal on the Spanish side to have anything to do with the matter or respond to formal written correspondence. The other party plays for time, in the hope that the patience and endurance of German claimants will be short-lived. If the lawyer assigned to conduct the case does not possess a thorough knowledge of such items as the highly-varied statute of limitations, it is not rare to see legitimate claims fail merely from failure to meet a deadline.
The same problems apply if the case is initially pursued from Germany. There is in practice no likelihood of success in a dispute with Spanish opponents. There are communication problems on both a linguistic and cultural level, and there is a high probability of claims brought in Spain failing due to formal irregularities or expiry. If the claims handler or lawyer based in Germany is likewise unfamiliar with the niceties of Spanish law, danger is even posed – for example – by attempts to apply Spanish law, where recourse to German law might actually be more favorable.
However, even if a Spanish lawyer is assigned to handle the matter, this only covers the Spanish side, and may lead to difficulties in the settlement. There is then a lack of knowledge of the German legal system, which in our experience is just as important. The results that we have achieved, by partial application of German law in Spain on our clients’ behalf, have often proved to be more advantageous than with the exclusive application of Spanish law. But above-average results can only be achieved by those able to deal correctly with the maze of legal regulations applying to international legal claims.
We intervene in the following areas:
- Recourse claims of health insurers and social security institutions
- Recourse claims of suppliers of comprehensive insurance in Spain
- Recourse claims of providers of transport insurance against in the party that caused the
damage based in Spain
- Recourse claims of German green-card insurers
Since 1992 our network of offices and our presence throughout Spain have helped make us one of the market leaders in the provision of services for legal protection insurers from Germany.
It is thanks to our consistent performance in this area that the German Insurance Association (GDV) has been recommending us as a trusted Spanish professional contact since 1992.
Our bilingual members of staff, who are also fluent in other major languages, allow us to deliver fast and efficient out-of-court solutions for legal-protection clients in Spain. We only have to apply to the actual courts in very few cases. A strong sense of empathy regarding the client’s needs is also a key part of our success. We always treat policyholders and their concerns with the utmost respect.
Key areas of our problem-solving skills include:
- Disputes involving real-estate law
- Fines and administrative offense proceedings
- The enforcement of claims in Spain
- Cases of product liability
- Consumer protection claims
- Timesharing and package holidays
- Ownership of residential property
- Road accidents and their settlement in Spain, the enforcement of claims for personal injuries. We act as a specialist law firm, in cases where the claim in Germany applying the 4th Motor Insurance Directive has not been successful, to enforce this claims in Spain quickly and inexpensively.
- Claims for loss or damage against airlines and other travel companies