Before proceeding with the purchase of a pleasure boat there are a number of aspects to consider:
Firstly, in the event that the seller of the boat is a private individual, the purchase and sale will be of a civil nature and therefore the application of article 1484 of the Civil Code must be attended to, specifically the following is established in the article:
“The seller shall be obliged to make good any hidden defects in the thing sold, if they make it unfit for the use for which it is intended, or if they diminish this use in such a way that, had the buyer known them, he would not have acquired it or would have given less price for it; but he shall not be liable for manifest defects or those that are in sight, nor for those that are not, if the buyer is an expert who, by reason of his trade or profession, should easily have known them”.
Consequently, the buyer will be entitled to the right to the repair of the boat when the defect is hidden at the time of the perfection of the contract. In addition, it must be serious in such a way that the boat that is the object of the sale is unfit for use or considerably diminishes its use in such a way that the buyer would not have acquired it or would have given a lower price for it when acquiring it.
We can define the requirements that must be met for the seller’s liability to be established as follows:
Likewise, article 1485 of the Civil Code establishes that:
“The seller is liable to the buyer for the remedy for hidden vices or defects even if he was unaware of them”.
“This provision shall not apply when the contrary has been stipulated”.
Therefore, as long as the contrary has not been stipulated in the contract of sale of the vessel, the seller is liable for the defects even if he was unaware of them.
Special consideration should be given to the due accreditation of the hidden defects that are alleged, since the burden of proof falls on the buyer and, therefore, it will be essential to gather all the evidence that proves the existence of the hidden defect in the vessel in question in order to achieve the success of the claims.
For all the above, under Article 1486 of the Civil Code, the buyer may choose between withdrawing from the contract, with the payment of the expenses he paid, or reducing a proportional amount of the price, as judged by experts.
In the event that the seller knew of the hidden defects of the vessel and did not disclose them to the buyer, he shall have the same option and shall also be indemnified for damages to the buyer, if he opts for rescission.
Taking into account all the aforementioned considerations, special mention should be made of Law 14/2014, of July 24, on Maritime Navigation, since the remedy for hidden defects of a recreational vessel presents a special regulation as opposed to the general regime that comes regulated in the above-mentioned articles of the Civil Code.
Specifically, the Maritime Navigation Act provides in Article 121 that the provisions set forth in Chapter VI of the sale and purchase, insofar as their respective nature permits, shall also apply to vessels and naval artifacts.
Accordingly, Article 119.2 the following:
“The seller shall be liable for the remedy of eviction and hidden vices or defects, provided that these are discovered within three months from the material delivery of the vessel and the buyer notifies them in a reliable manner to the seller within five days from their discovery”.
Therefore, we can deduce that the term established to file the action for the remedy of the hidden defects of a vessel will have to be discovered by the seller within three months from the material delivery of the vessel and, in addition, must be notified in a reliable manner to the seller within five days from their discovery.
Article 120 of the Maritime Navigation Law completes the regulation by establishing the following:
“The action for remedy for hidden defects or defects expires within six months from the notification”.
Therefore, it can be concluded that the remedy action for hidden defects must be filed within three months from the material delivery of the ship or vessel, establishing a period of five days to notify the seller in an irrefutable manner, and from which a period of six months of expiration is established for the remedy action for hidden defects of the vessels.
In contrast, the Civil Code establishes a general term of six months, in its article 1490, which leaves room for doubt as to whether the term of the action should be counted from the delivery of the vessel or from its notification. The Maritime Navigation Law is clear in this sense and leaves no room for doubt, distinguishing the time periods clearly and unequivocally.
In view of all the above, before initiating any possible complaint arising from the purchase of a boat between private individuals, all the above aspects should be taken into account, with special consideration that the defect is hidden, serious, and prior to the acquisition of the boat. In addition, all the established legal deadlines must be taken into account and the notification must not be overlooked, with special consideration in this sense of the notarial requirement or the certified burofax. From the Legal Nautical Law Firm Leuba Mazcaray, we can help you in the filing of the notification, in addition to offering timely legal assistance throughout the process from the analysis of the legal technique and with special emphasis and exclusive dedication to recreational boating.