We recently witnessed drastic changes and ameliorations in the UAE Maritime Industry. The UAE has ratified two crucial international conventions, these being the 1996 Protocol on Limitation of Liability (“LLMC”) and the 2001 International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (“Bunker Convention”).

Further and in addition to the two aforementioned conventions, the UAE Council of Ministers issued Resolution No. 71 of July 1, 2021, regarding Marine Wreck and Non-Compliant Ships (the “Resolution”). The Resolution came into force on September 15, 2021. This Resolution aims to create premises for speeding up the process of solving the issues of wrecks and abandoned ships. The objective of the Resolution was to achieve legislation similar to the 2007 Nairobi Convention on the Removal of Wrecks (“Nairobi Convention”).

The ratification and issuance of the Resolution and the Conventions is a tremendous step forward. However, the mere ratification of such laws is not sufficient to resolve the complexities and problems encountered in the Marine Industry. A further step should be taken by the authorities, which would entail taking measures such as the creation of tools, a practical mechanism and an environment to apply the ratified Convention and Resolution in the UAE waters and before the UAE courts.

What are the measures that are necessary to implement the above-mentioned as well as existing legislation?

One suggested example for the implementation of the LLMC would be the creation of a limitation fund by the UAE and to provide the confirmed authority with the required training such as the way in which funds may be established, how to distribute such funds between the creditors and the requirements for it.

With regards to the Resolution, in accordance with Article 7, a committee is to be established in each Emirate in order to study the technical case of the non-compliant vessels and to decide on the measures taken by the shipowner, operator, captain or the agents of the non-compliant vessel. The committee will then give the recommendation to the ministry of energy and infrastructure, which in turn shall decide whether a written warning must be issued in relation to the violation. We believe this would be a great enforcement mechanism to apply the provisions in the regulation. However, it is important to note that this has neither been tested nor realised.

Upon the completion of the formalities, such as providing the non-compliant party with a warning, we believe the UAE must, in turn, accommodate with the right and practicable procedure for fulfilling the main objective of the Resolution, that is, the fast sale of the non-compliant vessel through a public auction. The aforementioned suggestions will provide the maritime industry with clarity, stability and allow for more efficient guidelines for the owners/ investors of UAE or foreign-flagged vessels.

In addition to the above, we believe that applying the below points will also improve the maritime sector in the UAE:

A- Unifying the rules and regulations of the UAE ports.

B- Establishing a well experienced Maritime Dispute Centre in each emirate.

C- Providing the concerned judicial body with intense maritime training to be able to apply and implement the required rules/ regulations for the new applicable legislations.

This article aims to give a summary and overview. Nevertheless, this topic has many open questions remaining, and the Fichte & Co experts are always available to hear new inputs and discuss further.

If you wish to bring some additions, discuss some points in detail or if you have any questions, contact us at info@fichtelegal.com.

Author: Shehab Mamdouh, Senior Manager at Fichte & Co

Credits: Marasi News

Shehab Mamdouh

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