The head of the Court of First Instance number 24 of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, admitted the extension of the lawsuit of Central Santa Lucía against the Republic of Cuba and the Cuban company Gaviota S.A., in the procedure against Meliá Hotels International for the exploitation of some land on the island.
The judge informed of the existence of the procedure to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for them to issue a report, as provided for in the Law of International Legal Cooperation in Civil Matters, in accordance with the information provided by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Balearic Islands in a statement.
On the other hand, the Court, ex officio appreciating a possible lack of jurisdiction and international competence to hear the case―now also directed against Cuba―has referred the parties in person and the Public Prosecutor to allege what is convenient.
The expansion of the lawsuit occurs after the judge issued an order in which she agreed to the existence of a passive joint litigation and required the plaintiff to expand the claim against the State of Cuba and Gaviota S.A.
In this resolution prior to the extension, the magistrate refers to the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court in relation to unjust enrichment.
“A basic condition for the action brought by Central Santa Lucía to succeed is the prior declaration of the illegality of the property title that the State of Cuba holds over the Playa Esmeralda land,” she pointed out. Therefore, only the illegality of this title could cause the consideration of the benefits that Meliá obtains from the exploitation of these lands as constituting an unjust or causeless enrichment.
On the other hand, the judge argues that the exception of lack of necessary passive consortium litigation raised by Meliá must be upheld. According to the resolution, it is contrary to the Civil Procedure Law “to resolve this lawsuit without calling to the procedure the owner of the property right to be challenged, that is, the State of Cuba.”
In the order, the judge concludes that the resolution of the lawsuit presented by Central Santa Lucía “is evident that it will directly affect the interests of the State of Cuba and the company Gaviota S.A., also owned by Cuba, as the current owner of the land of Playa Esmeralda.”
According to the decision, the plaintiff bases its action on the attribution of a real right over the Playa Esmeralda land “which is contradictory and totally incompatible with the title of ownership that Cuba holds over said land.” In addition, the plaintiff also seeks a declaration of illegality of the aforementioned title.
For all these reasons, the judge ruled in her resolution that the processing of the procedure “cannot continue without Cuba and Gaviota S.A. being called as defendants,” and she considers the exception of lack of necessary passive consortium litigation raised by Meliá. She also required Central Santa Lucía to direct its claim against Cuba and Gaviota S.A.
The Court of First Instance number 24 of Palma estimated in September 2019 the decline raised by Meliá Hotels International and consequently declared the lack of jurisdiction and international competence of the Spanish courts to hear the lawsuit against the hotel group for the exploitation of some land in Cuba, which was nationalized by the Cuban government headed by Fidel Castro.
The judge decreed in an order the dismissal of the proceedings and ordered the plaintiff to pay the costs; but the Provincial Hearing reversed her decision. In March 2020, the Third Section of the Hearing declared the jurisdiction and international competence of the Court of First Instance to hear the procedure.