On September 30th of 2020 a new Circular under the number 20/2020 was published by the Shipping Deputy Ministry, regarding the 2018 amendments to the Code of the Maritime Labour Convention 2016, which shall enter into force on December 26th of 2020. It refers to the tacit acceptance procedure which led to the adoption of the 2018 amendments, approved by the 107th Session of the International Labour Conference under Article XV of the Convention, corresponding to the simplified amendment procedure.
The Circular is addressed to the following physical persons and/or legal entities:
i) Registered Owners of Vessels at the Register of Cyprus Ships
ii) Registered bareboat Charterers
iii) Managers and Representatives of Ships operating under the Cyprus Flag
iv) Recognized and Authorized Classification Societies
v) Managers and Representatives of Ships operating under a foreign flag but calling at Cyprus ports.
The adopted amendments, which mainly establish a more solid protection to seafarers who may be held captive due to piracy acts or armed robbery, focus on the above matters:
i) Standard A2.1 – Seafarers’ employment agreements;
ii) Standard A2.2 – Wages;
iii) Guidelines B2.5.1 – Entitlement to repatriation.
Specifically, the newly amended text is reshaped as follows:
i) Standard A2.1 – Seafarers’ employment agreements:
The newly introduced amendments have added into Regulation 2.1 the following text, codified under Paragraph 7:
“7. Each Member shall require that a seafarer’s employment agreement shall continue to have effect while a seafarer is held captive on or off the ship as a result of acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships, regardless of whether the date fixed for its expiry has passed or either party has given notice to suspend or terminate it. For the purpose of this paragraph, the term:
(a) piracy shall have the same meaning as in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982;
(b) armed robbery against ships means any illegal act of violence or detention or any act of depredation, or threat thereof, other than an act of piracy, committed for private ends and directed against a ship or against persons or property on board such a ship, within a State’s internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea, or any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitation an act described above.”
ii) Standard A2.2 – Wages:
With the introduction of the new amendments, a new text codified as Paragraph 7 has been added into Regulation 2.2 in the following way: “7. Where a seafarer is held captive on or off the ship as a result of acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships, wages and other entitlements under the seafarers’ employment agreement, relevant collective bargaining agreement or applicable national laws, including the remittance of any allotments as provided in paragraph 4 of this Standards, shall continue to be paid during the entire period of captivity and until the seafarer is released and duly repatriated in accordance with Standards A2.5.1 or, where the seafarer dies while in captivity, until the date of death as determined in accordance with applicable national laws or regulations. The terms piracy and armed robbery against ships shall have the same meaning as in Standard A.2.1, paragraph 7.”
iii)Guidelines B2.5.1 – Entitlement to repatriation:
With the new amendments, Paragraph 8 of Regulation 2.5 has been replaced as follows: “8. The entitlement to repatriation may lapse if the seafarers concerned do not claim it within a reasonable period of time to be defined by national laws or regulations or collective agreements, except where they are held captive on or off the ship as a result of acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships. The terms piracy and armed robbery against ships shall have the same meaning as in Standards A2.1, paragraph 7.”
Similar provisions already exist under Cypriot legislation, applicable on ships operating under the Cyprus flag by virtue of Part VII of the “Protection of Cyprus Ships Against Acts of Piracy and Other Unlawful Acts Law of 2012 (Law 77(I)/2012). This Law sets the legal framework for the establishment of security on ships, while regulating the use of armed personnel on board when entering high-risk zones. The same Law clarifies the rights and obligations of the parties involved, such as shipowners, crew managers, ship operators and ship staff.
According to the new Circular, the Maritime Labour Certificates and Declarations of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC) which have already been published, shall be valid until their expiration date. For further clarifications on the matter, the competent governmental authority, which is the Seafarers’ Division of the Shipping Deputy Ministry, remains at the disposal of all parties concerned. The Circular under the number 20/2020 must be present on all board ships operating under the Cypriot flag.
The present article is for informational purposes only and does not, under any circumstances, constitute legal advice. For further information on the subject, please contact Arsen Theofanidis LLC and one of our legal advisors shall be glad to assist you.
Advocate – Legal Consultant
Arsen Theofanidis LLC