European Union has declared a directive with reference 2009/20
on 23.04.2009 on Insurance of Shipowners for Maritime Claims. In
the directive, it is clearly stated that the member states adopted
a statement in which they unanimously recognized the importance of
the application of the 1996 Protocol to the 1976 Convention on
Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims by all Member States
and emphasized that the importance of obligation to have insurance
is that it will provide better protection for victims.
With this understanding and for the compliance with the laws of
the European Union, Turkish Maritime Undersecratary prepared a
regulation for compulsory insurance for vessels for maritime
claims. The name of the regulation is "Regulation on the
Requirement to Obtain Insurance Coverage for Vessels against
Maritime Claims and Supervision Thereof" which is published in
the official gazete on 14.1.2010 and will be in effect as of 1st
The Regulation stipulates that owners of Turkish flagged vessels
and all vessels which are governed under this Regulation and
entering into any Turkish ports shall ensure that they have
insurance against maritime claims subject to the limitation under
the 1996 Protocol of the 1976 Convention. Vessels referred to in
the Regulation are ships of 300 gross tonnage or more and insurance
means the indemnity cover provided by International Group of P
& I Clubs and other effective forms of insurance and financial
security offering similar conditions of cover.
The vessels should provide a copy of their insurance policy to
the nearest Harbour Master through an agent domiciled in Turkey
before entering into Turkish territorial waters and if insurance
policy terminates before departure of vessel from a Turkish port,
same should be renewed by her owners and a copy should be submitted
to the relevant Harbour Master before departure. The relevant Port
Authorities shall not issue permits for docking/mooring/anchoring
and certificates of seaworthiness for vessels which fail to comply
with the obligation of notification. A valid original of the
insurance policy should be present on board the vessel and this can
be controlled by Harbour Master any time. In case original of the
insurance policy is not on board, Harbour Master orders the vessel
to leave the port terminal, flag state is informed and vessel will
not be permitted to berth until original of the insurance policy
submitted. The Regulation also provides monetary penalty for the
vessel amounting between TL 500 to TL 20.000 in case above rules
The Regulation has been subject to a few conferences organized
nationaly by Universities and by International Bar Association (
IBA) where the procedure followed for preparation and legalization
of the Regulation is criticised. It has been discussed in Turkish
legal doctrine and supported that compulsory insurance should
either be governed by a Code approved by the parliament or by a
Decree of the Assembly of Ministers but not by a Regulation. The
relevant terms of Turkish Insurance Law is very clear on this point
and stipulates that the Treasury, General Secretariat of Insurance
is entitled to prepare legal provisions for compulsory insurance.
It is also stated that Turkish Maritime Undersecretary has not
authority for preparing a regulation providing compulsory
insurance. It is stressed that that if this procedural problem is
not solved by the government and if the regulation will be subject
to an administrative objection in this regard before the
Administrative Court of Appeal, same will have to be cancelled and
in order to provide a compulsory insurance regime as explained
above, the correct proceedural and administrative legal way will
need to be followed. However, at present, there is no such
application for cancellation of and same will become effective as
of 1st July 2011 as is.
Another issue which may be considered is the situation of
vessels transit passing the Turkish straits. The regulation is
governing Turkish flagged vessels and any vessel regardless of
their flags, which are arriving in or sailing out of ports,
terminals, anchorages and other ports facilities in Turkish
territorial waters. This clear definition demonstrates that the
Regulation will not be applicable to vessels which will be transit
passing the Turkish straits without calling into any Turkish ports.
However, we are in the opinion that in case of an accident within
the Turkish straits, if the transit passage regime is terminated by
the Port Authority, the regulation will be applicable.
In conclusion, the aim of the regulation is to provide
sufficient compliance with the EC directive mentioned above and we
will experience the application of the regulation after 1st July
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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