The ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 ("MLC 2006"), which was ratified by the United Kingdom on 7 August 2013, has been extended to the Cayman Islands and will enter into force on 7 August 2014. 

MLC 2006 came into force internationally on 20 August 2013 (the "Commencement Date") for the 30 countries which ratified MLC 2006 on or before 20 August 2012.  MLC 2006 is important because it creates a level playing field for ship owners and seafarers.  It addresses a number of issues including, minimum age, ship owners' obligations in relation to seafarers' contractual arrangements, oversight of manning agencies, working hours and hours of rest, health and safety, repatriation, crew accommodation, catering standards and the welfare of seafarers generally.  As a result, it has become widely referred to as the "seafarers' bill of rights". 

Under MLC 2006, each ship will be required to carry a Maritime Labour Certificate which should be issued to the ship by its relevant flag state, following a satisfactory inspection for compliance with MLC 2006.  In addition, there is a separate requirement for ship owners to prepare and maintain Part II of a Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance ("DMLC") identifying the measures to be adopted by the ship owner to ensure compliance with the requirements of MLC 2006 in respect of each ship.  Part I of the DMLC is to be prepared by the relevant flag state and should set out details of the requirements to be met in order to ensure compliance with MLC 2006 standards.  The Maritime Labour Certificate is prima facie evidence that the ship complies with the requirements of the MLC 2006, to the extent set out in the DMLC.  Both the Maritime Labour Certificate and the DMLC are subject to Port State Control inspection.  Port State Control enforcement of requirements under MLC 2006 is expected to commence in earnest in August 2014. 

Although MLC 2006 was not in force in the Cayman Islands on the Commencement Date, the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry ("CISR") has been in full compliance with the requirements of MLC 2006 since that date.  As a result, all Cayman flagged ships which were required by MLC 2006 to be certified by the Commencement Date were inspected and issued with Statements of Maritime Labour Compliance prior to that date.  In fact, the CISR has almost completed the inspection of the entire Cayman Islands fleet ahead of the August 2014 international deadline imposed by MLC 2006.  Once MLC 2006 comes into force in the Cayman Islands, Statements of Maritime Labour Compliance issued by the CISR will be exchanged for Maritime Labour Certificates.  MLC 2006 compliance is already a standard part of the process whenever a ship joins the Cayman register. 

As at the date of publication of this update, 56 countries have ratified MLC 2006.  With this extension to the Cayman Islands, the jurisdiction's shipping industry is closer to the goals set by the International Labour Organisation in 2006; and MLC 2006 continues to have strong support from the maritime industry globally.

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