War

A major administrative change was brought about by the 1993 Act and Regulations in that a central register for ships in the UK was established under the control of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen.  This is a computerised central registry.  The traditional ports of registry around the country no longer have any administration purpose.  S. 8 of the 1995 Act provides for this register to continue. The 1993 Act and Regulations introduced for the first time registration of foreign vessels, under the British flag, which are bareboat chartered to British charterers.  This is now embodied in s 17 of the 1995 Act.  Only the procedural rules apply to bareboat chartered-in-vessels: substantive law provisions governing mortgages, ownership, safety etc will be governed by the law of the country of original registration. The primary purpose of registration must be to provide evidence of title and, at least, to identify the person or company who is the owner.  A further advantage of registration is that the vessel has, as it were, a ‘home’ nation or at least a ‘home’ port, a place of ultimate refuge if necessary and the benefits of, and protection under, that nation’s domestic laws. Benefits which accrue to a government include of course the revenue or taxes which are claimed through a ship becoming registered and indeed that the ship may be requisitioned by the government in times of war. Certain countries offer their ‘national’ flag to ships of other nations and allow a registry under their laws laying down no requirements re beneficial ownership or control, other than merely stipulating that a nominal owning company be created for registration purposes.  No ‘genuine link’ between the country of registration and the country of ‘real’ ownership is requested or expected.