Jurisdiction

Actual ownership is one of the main tests of enemy character, and thus flag of convenience registered ships, when the state of actual ownership is a belligerent, would be regarded as enemy ships by the other belligerents.  Thus, the international rule that the country of registration has the right to protect by controlling or requisitioning its registered vessels could be, and is, varied by such rights of protection being exercised not by the flag state, but by the state of real and effective ownership/control. International opinion exerts great pressure on flag of convenience states to enforce effective jurisdiction and control over ships flying their flags, and particularly to maintain reasonably high standards in the safety regulations, etc. to be observed by such ships.  ‘Flags of Convenience’ is a phrase which has fallen into disrepute politically.  Countries which do not offer a flag of convenience (FOC) refer to themselves as the ‘Maritime Nations’. Since the late 1980s the traditional open registries are being challenged by the emergence of other categories of ship registry, one example of which is the offshore flag of which the obvious illustration geographically adjacent to the United Kingdom is the Isle of Man.  By offering owners the employment of crews at rates ruling in their country of origin and by also offering a tax concession to national crews, they aim to entice foreign registered British tonnage away from their foreign registry, thus presenting a threat to traditional and newly emerging independent registries.