On 30 May 2022, the Provincial Court of Barcelona upheld a pioneer judgment in first instance (Juzgado de Primera Instancia nº 20 de Barcelona) finding that the rebus sic stantibus clause should apply to the leases of 27 hotels between April 2020 and March 2021, reducing their rent by 50% over that period.
The plaintiff was exploiting these 27 buildings for tourist accommodation. As a consequence of the pandemic, her business lost about 83% of its profits over that period. For its part, the defendant was a large real estate owner.
Except for the costs of proceedings, the Provincial Court confirmed the findings of the lower court, affirming that the rebus sic stantibus clause should apply to these contracts, and that the 50% rent reduction was appropriate in light of an equitable distribution of risks as a consequence of the substantial alteration of circumstances resulting from the pandemic situation. The court rejected the defendant’s proposal for a moratorium on the payment of the rents covered by that period. In fact, the court held that the reduction was fair and appropriate especially when such a consequence has already been expressly provided for in the regulations enacted after the filing of the lawsuit, and, specifically in Catalan Decree-Law 34/2020, of 20 October, on urgent measures to support economic activity carried out in rented business premises, and at national level in Royal Decree-Law 35/2020, of 22 December, on urgent measures to support the tourism sector, the hotel and catering industry and commerce and in tax matters.