The existence and nature of piratical attacks off Somalia, is a
matter of great notoriety and has caused tremendous problems to
ship-owners, cargo-owners, insurers, crew members etc.
Due to the absence of any effective government, or law
enforcement in Somalia, the only realistic and effective manner of
obtaining release of a vessel seized by the Somali pirates, is the
negotiation and payment of a ransom.
Is the payment of ransom to Somali pirates for obtaining the
release of a vessel seized, unlawful and/or contrary to public
Cyprus has been an independent and sovereign republic, since
1960. Until that time, it had been a British Colony. The Cypriot
legal system followed English law until 1960. Since then, it has
been closely modeled on its English counterpart. Cyprus has adopted
the Anglo-Saxon legal system, which allows most English cases to be
cited in Cypriot Courts. Under certain conditions, the cases are
treated as binding, but in most instances, they are used as
There is no Cypriot case law, on the issue under consideration,
neither there is any legislation rendering the payment of ransom
In the event that an issue is raised before Cypriot Courts for
consideration, Cypriot Courts will follow and adopt legal
principles laid down in English case law.
In the English Appellate case MASEFIELD AG –V-
AMLIN COPROPRATE MEMBER LTD (2011) EWCA CIV 24, it has
been inter alia held that:
There is no universal morality against the payment of ransom,
the act not of the aggressor but of the victim of piratical
threats, performed in order to save property and the liberty or
life of hostages. This is despite the realization that the payment
of ransom, whatever it might achieve in terms of the rescue of
hostages and property, itself encourages the incident of piracy for
the purposes of exacting more ransoms (per RIX LJ at paragraph
There is no universally recognized principle of morality, no
clearly identified public policy, no incontestable public interest,
which could lead the courts, as a matter which stands beyond the
pale, without any legitimate recognition. There are only elements
of conflicting public interests, which push and pull in different
directions and have yet to be resolved in any legal enactments or
international consensus as to a solution (per RIX LJ at paragraph
The payment of ransom was not of itself contrary to English
Relying on inter alia the above, we conclude that it is lawful,
as a matter of Cypriot law, to pay a ransom to Somali pirates, in
order to secure the release of a ship, her crew and cargo.
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Early on in the year the figures showed that the hard work of both Transport Malta and the private sector service providers paid off; the Malta maritime register climbed to the summit within Europe, becoming the largest ship register out of the 27.
Located in the heart of a significant array of shipping routes, Malta’s strategic position has enabled the country to develop one of the largest and most reputable ship registers in the world offering a variety of international maritime services.
It is a criminal offence to leave the scene of an accident,
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