Legal Framework

In its business operations, HHLA is subject to numerous German and foreign statutory provisions and regulations such as public law, trade, customs, labour, capital market and competition regulations.

The regulatory environment for HHLA’s commercial activities in and around the Port of Hamburg is largely determined by the Hamburg Port Development Act (Hamburgisches Hafenentwicklungsgesetz – HafenEG). HafenEG formulates the structural framework for the ongoing development of commercial activity in the Hamburg port area. HafenEG’s objectives are to maintain the Port of Hamburg’s competitiveness as an international all-purpose port, to safeguard freight volumes and to use the public infrastructure as efficiently as possible. To this end, the Port of Hamburg employs a “landlord model”, under which the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) owns the land at the port and is responsible for building, developing and maintaining the infrastructure (general and user-specific), while the privately owned port operators are responsible for the development and maintenance of the superstructure (buildings and facilities). HHLA has concluded a long-term lease agreement with HPA for those port areas of importance for its business operations. Lease agreements are based on HPA’s general terms and conditions for port-related real estate (AVB-HI).

For the construction, alteration and operation of its handling facilities, HHLA is reliant on the issuance and continued existence of authorisations under public law, especially official authorisations in accordance with the German Federal Emissions Control Act (Bundesimmissionsschutzgesetz – BImSchG), the applicable local building regulations and water and waterways laws. All construction and extension measures require separate authorisations by the respective authorities, irrespective of the plan approval procedure for the expansion of the handling areas. HHLA’s affiliated companies are subject to a number of strict regulatory requirements, especially if they are involved in the handling of materials that can have damaging effects on people or the environment. These include, for example, the handling, storage and transportation of environmentally dangerous materials and hazardous goods. However, these regulatory requirements also include regulations on technical safety, health and safety in the workplace and environmental protection.

HHLA’s commercial activities are governed predominantly by the provisions of German and European competition law. This means that its pricing is determined by the market and is, as a matter of principle, not regulated.

Due to the dangers posed by international terrorism, there are strict security precautions at all ports. An essential component of these precautions is the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code), which requires the internationally standardised installation of measures to prevent terrorist attacks on ocean-going vessels and port facilities. For the operators of port facilities, compliance with the code involves observing strict access control and implementing numerous other measures for averting danger. The aforementioned international provisions are implemented in the Port of Hamburg’s area by means of the German Port Security Act (Hafensicherheitsgesetz – HafenSG).

The regulatory environment for business activities in the Intermodal segment is largely determined by the EU directive establishing a single European railway area (Directive 2012/34/EU) and the national implementing legislation. In particular, these include regulations governing the licensing of rail companies, the use of railway infrastructure, the associated charges as well as rail operation. The main legislation in Germany are the General Railways Act (Allgemeines Eisenbahngesetz – AEG), which sets out the requirements for rail operation, and the Railway Regulation Act (Eisenbahnregulierungsgesetz – ERegG) that replaced the previous Railway Infrastructure Usage Regulation (Eisenbahn-Infrastrukturverordnung – EIBV) in September 2016 and in particular contains provisions on network access and route pricing. In addition, there are further national, European and – especially for transnational rail transport – international regulations.

The legal framework for HHLA is subject to constant change at national, European and international level in order to keep pace with technical progress and increasing sensitivity with regard to safety and environmental concerns, among other issues. Potentially significant legislative projects at a European level in the period under review included work on an EU regulation to establish a framework for market access to port services and the financial transparency of ports (the so-called “Port Package III”), as well as amendments to the EU support scheme for ports. At a national level, there was work on the Regulation on Installations for the Handling of Substances Hazardous to Water (Verordnung über Anlagen zum Umgang mit wassergefährdenden Stoffen – VAwS), which may impact HHLA in the future depending on the form it takes. In the 2016 financial year, however, there were no amendments to the legal framework with a significant impact on the Group’s operating activities or its assets, financial or earnings position.