Kingdom

Section I of the 1894 Act provided that the necessary qualification for owning a British ship was to be either a British subject or a corporate body. ‘Established under and subject to the laws of some part of Her Majesty’s Dominions, and having their principal place of business in those Dominions’. This has been modified by the 1988 Act in order to confine the effect of United Kingdom legislation to the mainland. Section 3 of the 1988 Act, which states that British subjects and companies are qualified to own British ships, imposes a more restricted qualification on companies than did the 1894 Act.  Companies, in order to qualify, must be ‘incorporated in the United Kingdom or in any relevant overseas territory and having their principal place of business in the United Kingdom or in any such territory’. Section ll of the 1988 Act provides restrictive provisions under which ships may be registered in any such relevant territory.  Registration by a company of a British ship in any such territory may only be effected under Section ll. Thus, the registration of British ships outside the United Kingdom is now closely regulated and will only be permitted if such a territory has the facilities to administer and enforce international safety requirements to which the United Kingdom gives effect. The restrictive aim of the 1988 Act may also be seen in Section 10 which provides for amendment of Part I of the 1894 Act.  Included in these amendments is the provision that registration should be confined to mainland United Kingdom. A further change is introduced by Section 3 of the 1988 Act.  It is now no longer necessary for the ship to be ‘owned wholly’ by qualified persons as was required by Section 1 of the 1894 Act. It will now usually be sufficient if the qualified persons under Section 3,  who are entitled to register under Section 4, own a ‘majority interest’ i.e. 33 or more of the total 64 shares in the ship. The qualification of ‘British subjects’ under Section 1 of the 1894 Act at times gave rise to uncertainty as to the precise definition.   This has now been clarified by Section 3 of the 1988 Act, which sets out quite clearly the categories of qualified British persons.