Maritime Law Handbook

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1 Editors: Christian Breitzke Jonathan Lux Philomène Verlaan Maritime Law Handbook This handbook has been prepared under the auspices of Committee A (Maritime and Transport Law) of the Section on Business Law of the International Bar Association 2012 iii

2 Published by: Kluwer Law International P.O. Box AH Alpen aan den Rijn The Netherlands Website: Sold and distributed in North, Central and South America by: Aspen Publishers, Inc McKinney Circle Frederick, MD United States of America Sold and distributed in all other countries by: Turpin Distribution Services Ltd. Stratton Business Park Pegasus Drive Biggleswade Bedfordshire SG18 8TQ United Kingdom DISCLAIMER: The material in this volume is in the nature of general comment only. It is not offered as adivce on any particular matter and should not be taken as such. The editor and the contributing authors expressly disclaim all liability to any person with regard to anything done or omitted to be done, and with respect to the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done wholly or partly in reliance upon the whole or any part of the contents of this volume. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any matter contained in this volume without first obtaining professional advice regarding the particular facts and circumstances at issue. Any and all opinions expressed herein are those of the particular author and are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher of this volume. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available Maritime law handbook/editorial board, Hans-Christian Albrecht... [et al.]; edited by Has- Christian Albrecht and Roger Heward, p. cm. Prepared under auspices of Committee A of the Section on Business Law of the International Bar Association. Rev. ed. of: Maritime law/edited by Lennart Hagberg ISBN (loose-leaf) 1. Maritime law. I. Albrecht, Hans-Christian. II. Heward, Roger. III. International Bar Association, Section on Business Law, Committee A. IV. Maritime law. K M dc 19 CIP [ ] ISBN This title is available on # 2012, Kluwer Law International was first published in All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Permission to use this content must be obtained from the copyright owner. Please apply to: Permissions Department, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 76 Ninth Avenue, Sevent Floor, New York, NY 10011, United States of America. iv

3 Republic of Vanuatu Nancy L. Hengen John Ridgway Part II. Flag and Registration of Vessels Mortgages of Vessels Updated to 1 March 2012 Republic of Vanuatu Part II i

4 HENGEN/RIDGWAY Republic of Vanuatu Part II ii

5 REPUBLIC OF VANUATU Nancy L. Hengen Nancy L. Hengen is a member of the Bar of the State of New York and a partner in the firm of Holland & Knight LLP, New York, New York. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the Harvard Law School. John Ridgway John Ridgway holds a Masters of Law degree from the University of Sydney and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance from the Securities Institute of Australia (Corporate Finance major). John is a licensed Investment Adviser for the Capital Markets Development Authority in Fiji. John is admitted to practice law in NSW and was first admitted to practice in Vanuatu in Republic of Vanuatu Part II iii

6 HENGEN/RIDGWAY Republic of Vanuatu Part II iv

7 REPUBLIC OF VANUATU LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS Table of Contents Part II. Flag and Registration of Vessels and Mortgages 1 A. Flag and Registration of Vessels and Vessels under Construction 1 ix CHAPTER 1. Sources of law and the principal rules arising therefrom Sources of Vanuatu law concerning registration of vessels, and the administration thereof Entities entitled to document a vessel in Vanuatu Registration of securities (charges) Flying the Vanuatu flag Transfers into and out of the Vanuatu registry 4 CHAPTER 2. Registration of a vessel Type of register Types of vessels eligible for registration Type of ownership Particulars recorded Costs Register errors 7 CHAPTER 3. Documentation required for registration Generally New buildings After a forced sale 9 CHAPTER 4. Deregistration After a sale After a total loss Mortgagees consent Permission of governmental agencies 11 CHAPTER 5. Legal effect of registration 11 CHAPTER 6. International conventions for the unification of certain rules relating to maritime liens and mortgages 1926 and/or Republic of Vanuatu Part II v

8 HENGEN/RIDGWAY CHAPTER 7. CHAPTER 8. CHAPTER 9. Bareboat-charter registration under the Vanuatu flag of vessels which remain registered in another country 12 Bareboat-charter registration under a foreign flag of vessels which remain registered in Vanuatu 14 Registration of rights in respect of vessels under construction 15 B. Registration of Mortgages on Vessels and Legal Nature of Mortgages 16 CHAPTER 10. SOURCES OF LAW 16 CHAPTER 11. THE REGISTER 16 CHAPTER 12. Vessels that may be mortgaged 18 CHAPTER 13. Who can be a mortgagee? 18 CHAPTER 14. Kinds of rights and/or claims for which a mortgage can be registered 19 CHAPTER 15. Interest and costs 20 CHAPTER 16. CHAPTER 17. Particulars recorded and other evidence of a mortgage 20 Further preconditions for the creation of a valid charge by way of mortgage 21 CHAPTER 18. Priorities of registered mortgages inter sese 21 CHAPTER 19. CHAPTER 20. Priorities between mortgages and other encumbrances 21 Relation of registered mortgages to unregistered preferential rights 22 CHAPTER 21. To what does a registered mortgage attach? 22 CHAPTER 22. Effect of payment of debts secured by the mortgage 23 CHAPTER 23. Assignability of mortgages 23 Republic of Vanuatu Part II vi

9 REPUBLIC OF VANUATU CHAPTER 24. Protection of mortgagees against seizure, etc. 23 CHAPTER 25. Effect of change of ownership of a vessel 23 CHAPTER 26. Mortgage protection in the case of deregistration of a vessel 23 CHAPTER 27. Liability of mortgagees 24 CHAPTER 28. Submission to enforced execution under a mortgage 24 Republic of Vanuatu Part II vii

10 HENGEN/RIDGWAY Republic of Vanuatu Part II viii

11 REPUBLIC OF VANUATU List of Abbreviations $ or US$ Dollars, lawful money of the United States of America Ship A term interchangeable with the term vessel which is the term mostly used in Vanuatu statutes SOLAS Safety of Life at Sea Convention Vanuatu Republic of Vanuatu NRT Net registered tons Vatu Currency of the Republic of Vanuatu Republic of Vanuatu Part II ix

12 HENGEN/RIDGWAY Republic of Vanuatu Part II x

13 PART II. Registration of Vessels and Mortgages of Vessels A. Flag and Registration of Vessels and Vessels under Construction 1. SOURCES OF LAW AND THE PRINCIPAL RULES ARISING THEREFROM 1.1. Sources of Vanuatu law concerning registration of vessels, and the administration thereof The principal source of law on documentation of Vanuatu vessels, registration of mortgages, and maritime liens is the Maritime Act Cap 131 (the Maritime Act ), as amended, first passed in 1981, and the Maritime Regulations Order No. 25 of 1990 (the Regulations ), which was originally adopted in 1981 to implement the Maritime Act. While Vanuatu has an eclectic legal system that draws upon such diverse sources as British law and the Napoleonic Code, the Maritime Act and Regulations are largely based upon the law of the United States. The principal sources of Vanuatu law for corporate questions relevant to vessel ownership are the Vanuatu Companies Act Cap , and the International Companies Act No. 32 of 1992, which came into effect on 18 May The first is substantially based on British company law whilst the latter is modelled on the legislation of the British Virgin Islands. Of course, other statutes may have to be considered in certain situations. Matters relating to vessel registration and mortgaging are administered by Vanuatu Maritime Services Limited, under contract with the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu to act as Maritime Administrator, located in New York City. Legally responsible authority is taken in the name of the Commissioner of Maritime Affairs or any duly appointed Deputy Commissioner. The Commissioner and each Deputy Commissioner are required to maintain an office containing properly indexed public registers. In practice and by design, the central registry is effectively in New York City. Applications for documentation of vessels under the flag of Vanuatu pursuant to the Maritime Act must be made to: The Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs Republic of Vanuatu 39 Broadway, Suite th Floor New York, New York 10006, USA Republic of Vanuatu Part II 1

14 HENGEN/RIDGWAY Telephone: Website: The Commissioner of Maritime Affairs is also the Commissioner for Financial Services in Vanuatu. The Deputy Commissioner in the New York office is the prime administrative officer for shipping matters and controls actions of all special Agents and other Deputy Commissioners. Requests for information, official application forms and registration cost quotations may be directed to the above office. Although the Maritime Act provides for enforcement of preferred mortgages in Vanuatu by a proceeding in rem, admiralty proceedings are not frequent in Vanuatu. In fact, no published decisions exist of judicial proceedings involving documentation or mortgaging of vessels. Thus, apart from the text of the Maritime Act itself, only a limited body of law exists from which to draw answers to questions relating to documentation, mortgages and liens. However, the structure of the Maritime Act draws heavily upon United States law. Moreover, Section 11 of the Maritime Act expressly incorporates the nonstatutory general maritime law of the United States to the extent that it does not conflict with the Maritime Act or other Vanuatu Statutes. In situations in which Vanuatu s general law is not derived specifically from post-independence statute(s), the Vanuatu Constitution provides that the laws of England and France that were the laws of Vanuatu (New Hebrides) at independence continue to be the law of Vanuatu unless amended or repealed. In terms of statutes this means that a significant number of UK Acts are still laws of Vanuatu because they were acts of general application in the British colonies. One such is the Bankruptcy Act (because the Vanuatu legislature has yet to enact its own statute on the subject) Entities entitled to document a vessel in Vanuatu The Maritime Act permits documentation (which is defined to mean registration, enrolment or licensing) of a vessel only by citizens or nationals of Vanuatu, including corporations, partnerships and associations of individuals created or incorporated under Vanuatu law. Although a limited liability company is not specifically named in the statute, the Deputy Commissioner s Office has accepted vessel registrations in the name of a limited liability company as owner as well. An International Company incorporated under the International Companies Act No. 32 of 1992 fulfils the citizenship requirement for documentation of a Vanuatu flag vessel even though such an International Company must not actually carry on business in Vanuatu. Two categories of Vanuatu corporations may become owners of vessels to be registered. Local Companies are incorporated pursuant to the Companies Act, and these are companies which are engaged in doing business in Vanuatu. Republic of Vanuatu Part II 2

15 REPUBLIC OF VANUATU International Companies comprise the second category, and they are precluded by the relevant statutes from conducting business in Vanuatu. International Companies are preferred because the procedures for their incorporation are simpler, and the secrecy provisions in that Act more stringent. As an example of the simplification under the International Companies Act, the members or shareholders, officers, and directors may be of any nationality. Under the Companies Act a company had to have at least one Vanuatu director. The procedures for incorporating an International Company are not cumbersome. An International Company is prohibited from acquiring or owning any interest in immovable property situated in Vanuatu (other than some leases) or carrying on banking business, trust business, insurance business (as defined by relevant legislation), or company management business. However, an International Company will not be treated as carrying on business in Vanuatu if it (i) carries on business with another International Company or in furtherance of the business of the International Company carried on outside Vanuatu, or (ii) leases premises in Vanuatu from which to carry on its business as permitted by the International Companies Act, or (iii) makes or maintains deposits with a person licensed to carry on banking business in Vanuatu. An International Company also may obtain professional services from its registered agent, attorneys, accountants, trust companies, insurance brokers or other similar persons carrying on business within Vanuatu; it may prepare or maintain its books and records within Vanuatu and hold meetings within Vanuatu of its directors or members and hold shares, debt obligations or other securities in a company incorporated under either Companies Act, or issue shares, debt obligations or other securities to anyone resident in Vanuatu or any company incorporated under the Companies Act. The Maritime Act does not specify when a partnership should be considered a citizen of Vanuatu. Consequently, the prudent course is to discuss any partnership proposed to be a vessel owner with the Deputy Commissioner prior to going too far with a partnership structure. Moreover, the Deputy Commissioner may waive the statutory limitations of Vanuatu citizenship upon showing of an absolute and genuine need. Waivers are readily granted. If a waiver is granted, a certificate of good standing must be submitted for the non-vanuatu entity that will be the owner of the Vanuaturegistered vessel Registration of securities (charges) Both the International Companies Act and the Companies Act provide for registration of securities (charges) granted by the relevant Vanuatu company encumbering its assets in some way. The types of charge and the method of registration are slightly different under each statute, but under both statutes such charges include assignments of insurances or vessel earnings and may include charges over or pledges of shares of the company. Republic of Vanuatu Part II 3

16 HENGEN/RIDGWAY Failure to register any relevant charge at the office of the Financial Services Commissioner has the effect of voiding the charge against any potential liquidator of the company. Any charge under the Companies Act must be registered with the Commissioner for Financial Services within twenty-one days of its creation or within twenty-one days of the instrument creating the charge arriving in Vanuatu (if it has been executed outside Vanuatu). In the case of the International Companies Act, the registration must take place within forty-two days of the creation of the charge in any case, wheresoever it was created. Section 407 of the Companies Act exempts any private exempted shipowning company from having to register charges under the Companies Act if the charge is registered in the office of the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs in accordance with the Maritime Act. It is this provision which exempts mortgages over vessels from having to be registered under the Companies Act. The exemption tends to apply only to mortgages because other types of charges are not usually registered in the office of the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs. The International Companies Act, section 78A, grants a similar exemption to ship-owning companies from registering charges that are otherwise registered under the Maritime Act and again the effect is to exempt vessel mortgages only Flying the Vanuatu flag Unless duly documented, vessels are not entitled to fly the Vanuatu flag. Once so documented, however, that flag must be flown unless that right is withdrawn upon the granting of a permission for bareboat-charter registration in another country or permission for transfer to a foreign registry Transfers into and out of the Vanuatu registry A vessel from a foreign state that becomes owned by an entity entitled to register vessels may (but is not required to) be registered in Vanuatu upon meeting the requirements for initial registration. If a Vanuatu vessel is sold to an entity not entitled to register vessels in Vanuatu, the vessel must be deleted from the Vanuatu register or a waiver of the ownership requirement must be obtained from the Deputy Commissioner. If a vessel is to be transferred to a foreign registry, permission for transfer must be obtained, but it is readily granted so long as the seller is not in default in payment of taxes and other charges due to Vanuatu and all mortgagees consent. If the vessel is to be deleted from the Vanuatu flag, all mortgages must first be discharged or the consent of all mortgagees obtained. A Vanuatu bareboat charterer of a foreign flag vessel may obtain permission for Vanuatu bareboat-charter registration. Conversely, the owner of a Vanuatu vessel that is bareboat-chartered may obtain permission for bareboat-charter registration in the name of the bareboat charterer in a Republic of Vanuatu Part II 4

17 REPUBLIC OF VANUATU foreign state provided the foreign state so allows, and in order to do so the owner must also secure the permission of mortgagees. 2. REGISTRATION OF A VESSEL 2.1. Type of register The Deputy Commissioner maintains a central register for vessels in New York; and, as a practical matter, that is the central registry for the filing of documents under the Maritime Act and Regulations. Additional Deputy Commissioners have been appointed in other locations worldwide to accept documents and fees and to issue a provisional certificate of registry, all upon the instructions of and under the control of the Deputy Commissioner in New York. Special Agents of the Deputy Commissioner located outside of New York have also been appointed. They are empowered to act only upon instructions of the Deputy Commissioner in New York. The home port of all Vanuatu vessels is Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, pursuant to section 16 of the Maritime Act. The Deputy Commissioner s office in New York is open on business days from 9 am to 5 pm, and otherwise by special arrangement. Records open to public inspection are maintained with respect to recorded mortgages and certain other instruments in the New York office. Duplicate copies are also maintained in the home registry in Vanuatu Types of vessels eligible for registration Any sea-going vessel owned by or on a bareboat charter to a citizen or national of Vanuatu and engaged in foreign trade may be registered, regardless of where it was built. Foreign trade is defined as trade between Vanuatu and a foreign country or between one foreign country and another, and includes the transportation of goods between the ports of Vanuatu and ports of foreign countries and between the ports of one foreign country and another. Registration is not restricted to self-propelled vessels. Barges, drilling rigs and other sea-going craft meeting the necessary requirements may be registered; however, any yacht or other vessel used exclusively for pleasure may be registered only if it is 50 net tons or over and it must pay the appropriate fee accordingly. The Maritime Act prohibits registration of vessels over twenty years of age determined from completion of first construction to 1 January of the year in which registration is sought, but this limitation may be waived in exceptional circumstances by the Deputy Commissioner if the vessel meets all other registration requirements, and if it receives the top classification of one of the classification societies recognized by the Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner currently confines waivers to situations in which he/she is satisfied that, in addition to Republic of Vanuatu Part II 5

18 HENGEN/RIDGWAY meeting all other requirements for registration, the vessel is needed to implement the operations of a Vanuatu shipowner or registration is otherwise desirable to carry out the objectives of the Vanuatu maritime programme Type of ownership Vanuatu flag vessels may be owned by individuals, corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships trusts, associations of individuals and in joint ownership subject to the requirements for citizenship and nationality (or waiver thereof) mentioned in section 1.2. supra. Note that the Maritime Act allows for waiver of the citizenship ownership requirement for registration but not for bareboat-charter registration. Accordingly, an entity which is not a Vanuatu citizen or national will not be granted a waiver to permit it to bareboat-charter register a vessel under Vanuatu flag Particulars recorded Each vessel must have a name approved by the Deputy Commissioner and an official number and call letters assigned by that office. The register will also show the vessel s measurements, gross and net tonnage, principal dimensions and other particulars descriptive of the identity of the vessel. In general, the Deputy Commissioner requires more particulars than appear in the Certificate of Registry Costs Following are the principal costs associated with initial registration of Vanuatu vessels, but it is advisable to consult the Deputy Commissioner s Office in each individual case: Registration Fee (negotiable): Initial 500 NRT to 5000 NRT $1.05 per NRT 5001 NRT to NRT $0.435 per NRT >25001 NRT $0.35 per NRT Annual Annual Tonnage Tax, per Net Ton Up to 14,999 $0.25/NRT 15,000 to 24,999 $0.20/NRT 25,000 to 34,999 $0.15/NRT Republic of Vanuatu Part II 6

19 REPUBLIC OF VANUATU 35,000 or over $0.10/NRT Annual Fee: Marine Investigations, Nautical $ Training and International Participation (plus $.04 per NRT) Annual Marine Inspection (Each Inspection) $ Annual Marine Inspection for Fishing Vessels $ (Each Inspection) Provisional Certificate of Registry $ Permanent Certificate of Registry $ Temporary Radio Authority $50.00 Permanent Ship Station License $ Publication and Forms $50.00 Registration Fees and Annual Tonnage Tax for vessels of dual tonnages are payable on the higher of the two net tonnage figures. Tonnage taxes may be reviewed annually under the Maritime Act, and the Deputy Commissioner has the authority, which he/she has used, to offer discounts on fleet registrations. All payments are in United States Dollars, drawn upon a US bank or the US branch of an international bank. Unless otherwise instructed, payments should be made to the Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs Republic of Vanuatu. Unpaid taxes and other fees owed under the Maritime Act constitute a lien upon the related vessel with priority over all other liens except crew s wages and salvage Register errors Errors in a vessel s Certificate of Registry or in the recording index page of a mortgage can be corrected administratively by informal procedure. However, errors in recorded documents (such as a bill of sale or mortgage) require a recorded correcting document. 3. DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED FOR REGISTRATION 3.1. Generally To obtain provisional registration of a vessel not previously registered under Vanuatu law, the owner must present: (1) a written application together with evidence of authority of the individual who executes the application, accompanied, if necessary, by requests for waiver of citizenship of owner or vessel age requirements; (2) satisfactory proof of ownership, usually a bill of sale or builder s certificate, or proof of ownership under a prior foreign flag; (3) if a transfer from a foreign flag, consent by the former country of registration to the surrender of its marine document, or an actual certificate showing the vessel s Republic of Vanuatu Part II 7

20 HENGEN/RIDGWAY deletion from the foreign ship registry; (4) proof that the vessel is free and clear of recorded liens and encumbrances at the time of transfer; (5) proof that the required marking of name, official number, tonnages, home port, and draft have been made or that orders have been issued to the Master to make such markings; (6) proof that the vessel is in a seaworthy condition (usually by submission of a confirmation of class dated not more than ten days prior to the date of registration issued by one of the classification societies recognized by Vanuatu); and (7) requisite fees. The classification societies approved by Vanuatu at present are: (a) American Bureau of Shipping; (b) Bureau Veritas; (c) China Classification Society (ZC); (d) Det Norske Veritas; (e) Germanischer Lloyd; (f) Korean Register of Shipping; (g) Lloyd s Register of Shipping; (h) Nippon Kaiji Kyokai; (i) Polish Register of Shipping; (j) Registro Italiano Navale; (k) Russian Maritime Register of Shipping; or (l) any other international ship classification society as may be authorized by the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner. The application must contain a declaration that states the particulars of the vessel, the owner or owners and their respective shares, the mortgagees, the vessel s decision-maker, statements respecting the officers and crew, and certain other forms and affidavits. An initial provisional certificate of registry is valid for a period of thirty days. However, the Deputy Commissioner may renew a provisional Certificate of Registry up to a period of one year upon a showing of good cause. Moreover, under section 33 of the Maritime Act, if an owner cannot comply with certain requirements for obtaining a provisional or permanent Certificate of Registry due to abnormal conditions existing in the country of foreign registration, the Deputy Commissioner may waive such requirements. This provision is intended to grant flexibility in situations where such items as permission for transfer, deletion certificate or evidence that the vessel is free and clear of recorded encumbrances cannot be obtained by the owner due to political circumstances beyond the owner s control in the country of foreign registry. After initial registration, a permanent Certificate of Registry should be obtained as soon as possible. In part, this document will depend upon the vessel s classification society issuing a Vanuatu ITC 69 measurement certificate and SOLAS certificates. Other matters, however, are more directly the owner s responsibility. For example, proof must be presented that the vessel s new name, home port, official number and net tonnage have been marked as required by Republic of Vanuatu Part II 8

21 REPUBLIC OF VANUATU law, and if a deletion certificate from the former foreign registry was not presented at initial registration, it should be presented within thirty days thereafter. When a Vanuatu vessel is transferred to another owner for re-registration in Vanuatu, a bill of sale duly acknowledged must be presented and recorded. Once recorded, the bill of sale is binding on third parties without notice. A bill of sale submitted in connection with re-registration must recite the entire existing Certificate of Registry; this is customarily handled by attaching a copy of the existing Certificate of Registry as an exhibit to the bill of sale. This is not a requirement of initial registration. While bills of sale or other proof of ownership presented on initial registration need not be recorded, they may be recorded if duly acknowledged New buildings The procedure for registration of a new building is identical to the procedure for registration of a vessel previously registered in another country. Instead of a bill of sale, however, proof of ownership is likely to be a builder s certificate, which requires information as to the time and place of building, the person for whom it was built, the type of vessel, and the number of decks and masts, tonnage, etc After a forced sale (a) When a vessel is sold in a forced sale following a court order or legal procedure in Vanuatu or another country, a Vanuatu flag vessel may be reregistered if the sale procedure was a proceeding in rem and if it was purchased by an entity qualified to own a Vanuatu flag vessel or which obtains a waiver of the ownership requirement. Section 40(3) of the Maritime Act absolves the purchaser from complying with the normal requirement of surrendering the existing Certificate of Registry issued to the prior owner, but all other requirements for re-registration of a Vanuatu vessel must be fulfilled. The documents in respect of the sale (usually a court order directing the sale and a duly acknowledged bill of sale issued by a court officer), together with an attorney s opinion as to the legal effect thereof, will be recorded both as a discharge of prior mortgages and as a conveyance. (b) When a non-vanuatu vessel has been sold in another country following a court order in an in rem proceeding, the vessel may be documented in Vanuatu if otherwise qualified on similar presentation of court documents, duly acknowledged, and of an opinion of counsel as to proof of ownership. In addition, however, the Deputy Commissioner may require evidence that the mortgages recorded in the former registry have been deleted and that the former registration has been cancelled. Republic of Vanuatu Part II 9

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