After taking into consideration a number of proposals made by
the local flag administration and the importance to remain
competitive in such an important industry, a number of amendments
have been put forward to the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA), Chapter
234 of the Laws of Malta which, essentially, clarify a number of
ambiguities which existed and also reflect current administrative
Article 3(6) of the MSA deals with the suspension of certain
conditions relating to survey and safety of ships already built,
and to the declaration of ownership of a ship under construction
where the builders have not yet affected delivery to the owners.
The proposed amendment will seek to include the suspension of the
bill of lading in respect of a sale of a ship under
Article 19(3) provides the periods of validity of a certificate
of registry. The amendment proposes that the certificate of
registry of ships of 500 gross tonnage and over may be valid for a
maximum period of five years, if the certificate of registry is
issued at the expiry of the first twelve months. Currently, Article
19A of the MSA provides that a charterer may apply to the registrar
of ships to have the certificate of registry issued in his name
instead of in the name of the owner. The proposed amendment seeks
to include the lessee who may also seek to apply for certificates
in his own name, rather than in the name of the owner.
A new addition, Article 19B, shall now give the power to the
owner, or registered mortgagee, to withdraw their consent where a
certificate of registry has been issued in the name of the
charterer or the lessee. In this case, the certificate will cease
to have effect and must be surrendered by the charterer or
Article 26B shall now provide that even though ships with a
non-operational certificate of registry shall not proceed to sea, a
ship with a non-operational certificate may have a sea trial
subject to authorisation by the Registrar. An amendment to Article
27(1) now provides that a certificate of registry will also cease
to have effect where the registered owner fails to pay the relevant
fees, such as the registration fees and any tonnage dues.
It has been suggested that Article 28A, which deals with the
closure of the registry of ship after the judicial sale of the ship
or pursuant to a sale by a mortgagee, should now provide that the
interest of any registered mortgagee or any other creditor must be
satisfied by the proceeds of the sale and shall no longer encumber
the ship. This position would also be in line with the proposed
Convention on the Judicial Sale of Ships, Hamburg 2014.
A new sub-article will be added to Article 32 which shall
provide that, where the ownership of a ship is transferred by means
of a merger or operation of the law, the new owner shall make a
signed declaration indicating how the property has been transferred
to him, together with supporting documentation.
Article 84H, dealing with the extension of the bareboat charter
registration, shall now provide that at the request of the
charterer or his agent, the Registrar may extend the registration
for the remaining period of the charter or until the expiry of the
underlying registry for a period not exceeding two years at a time.
Article 84Q shall now provide that a ship registered in Malta may
be registered in a foreign registry as a bareboat charter under a
different name than that found in the Malta Registry, provided that
the Registrar, the registered owners and the registered mortgagees
give their consent.
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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With 330m dwt on its books, Panama remains the most popular register with a lead of 126m dwt over second placed Liberia at 204m dwt.
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