Press release

Drones: legal challenges for manufacturers, insurers and users


Pérez-Llorca hosted a seminar devoted to reflecting on the legal implications of the use of drones. The session focused on the different perspectives of drone manufacturers and insurers, the protection of fundamental rights as well as the potential criminal implications that could arise.

Speakers included Félix Fernández Merino, Director of UAS Programmes at Airbus España; Laura Ruiz, Senior Associate of the Litigation and Arbitration practice at Pérez-Llorca; Matxalen Cruz de Llano, Deputy Technical Director of the Transport and Aviation Area at Mapfre España; María Luz Lorenzo, Counsel in the Litigation and Arbitration practice at Pérez-Llorca and Juan Palomino, Senior Associate in the White Collar Crime and Investigations practice at Pérez-Llorca.

Félix Fernández Merino opened the session by focusing on the more technical issues regarding the system’s components, typology, manufacture and use of drones in different sectors, analysing the evolution of this equipment, from its origins in the military sector to its progressive integration into the civilian world.

Laura Ruiz then continued with a legal analysis of the civil liability of manufacturers and operators of drones, introducing the regulatory framework and addressing the difficult matter of applicable law. Ruiz also described the various scenarios which could result in damages due to defective products, and set out the liability regime of drone operators, before ending with the impact that the liability regime could have on insurance.

Then, Matxalen Cruz de Llano gave the insurers’ perspective, describing the status of the drones market and the advantages that their use may have with regard to reducing costs and environmental impact and creating new companies and applications. Cruz de Llano outlined the applicable regulations and the limits and requirements for drone insurance, with special emphasis on the risks arising from activities using this equipment and its impact on the coverage of damages.

Maria Luz Lorenzo spoke on the controversial issue of the potential threat that the use of drones could pose to the right to privacy. In particular, she addressed the practical difficulties arising from the absence of specific regulations that combine the protection of fundamental rights with a phenomenon as dynamic as drone operation. She also described some cases in which the operator could infringe, albeit unknowingly, rights to personal privacy, family life and the protection of one’s image, and which measures would have to be taken for the protection of these rights.

Juan Palomino closed the speeches with a presentation on useful safeguarding mechanisms for the use and manufacture of drones. He highlighted the problems posed by drone operation for the protection and processing of personal data, secret business information or other confidential information that could be obtained via these devices, and made special reference to the risk of theft or hacking. He also raised the need to have established written protocols in order to respond quickly and effectively to any attack, and recommended forming crisis committees within companies to manage these issues.

After the presentations of the speakers, an interesting dialogue took place in which a number of issues were raised by the attendees of the event.