(Reuters) – Spain received support from Europe’s Supreme Court on Monday in its multi-million euro claim against London Steam-Ship Owners’ Mutual Insurance Association Ltd. for a massive oil spill on its northwest coast two decades ago.
The sinking in 2002 of the Greek oil tanker Prestige, which sailed to Gibraltar, released an estimated 63,000 tonnes of foul-smelling black fuel along the coast of Galicia, forcing the closure of Spain’s richest fishing waters.
This led to a long-running dispute between The London Steam-Ship Owners’ Mutual Insurance Association, the ship’s insurer, and Spain.
The latter took his case to a Spanish court, which then ordered the insurer to pay compensation, up to $ 1billion, for the damage.
The London Steam-Ship Owners’ Mutual Insurance Association in turn initiated arbitration proceedings in London, which resulted in a ruling that Spain could only seek damages through arbitration in London under English law.
Spain then asked a British court to enforce the Spanish ruling and received its support in 2019. The insurer appealed, prompting the UK Supreme Court to seek guidance from the Luxembourg – based court in the European Union. The European Court of Justice took Madrid’s side.