The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development recently issued Regulation 85-E/2017, under which vessels calling at Argentine ports must apply a chlorination process to their ballast water tanks to prevent the introduction of invasive aquatic species. However, the regulation posits only that chlorination must be done on arrival and does not clarify whether it should be conducted by the crew or a local entity. This has resulted in several operational issues.
The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development recently issued a new regulation addressing ballast water treatment for vessels arriving from foreign ports. Pursuant to Regulation 85-E/2017, vessels calling at Argentine ports must apply a chlorination process to their ballast tanks as a measure to prevent the introduction of invasive aquatic species that could affect river ecosystems in Argentina.
A new regulation was recently introduced to update rules governing safe under keel clearance for vessels navigating the Parana River. Further improvements are expected based on safety concerns, as the regulation is the result of friction between the pilotage industry and the government over the latter's aim to reduce pilots' fees. The regulation has been enacted for a limited time and invites all parties involved to suggest further amendments.
The majority of bulk carriers calling at Argentine ports must clean their holds after discharging and before loading the next cargo. Government inspection is compulsory and inspectors must board all vessels loading grain in Argentina. Unfortunately, inspections have generally caused delays for vessels and port terminals and led to circumstances that are similar to the detention of a vessel.
Many companies allow seafarers to sail with their family on board, and these are considered passengers under Argentine legislation. An issue arises when a vessel is in transit and the master receives instructions to proceed to a port which requires an entry visa for passengers, but not crew. This situation may result in undesirable circumstances for seafarers and their family members.
The Superior Court of Justice has reversed previous Sao Paulo State Court rulings and recognised the validity of foreign ship mortgages in Brazil. Respecting the acts of sovereignty of countries where vessels are registered, the court highlighted the economic importance of acknowledging ship mortgages of foreign states and emphasised that large vessels must be registered in their flag states and that these registrations have extraterritorial effects.
Federal law provides that all vessels registered before Brazil's port captaincies must buy the mandatory insurance for personal injury caused by vessels or their cargo. However, such insurance has been discontinued due to a lack of insurers willing to underwrite the risks involved. Now, after a number of passenger fatalities in recent accidents, industry players and the government are being called on to ensure that policies are offered which soften the burden borne by victims and their families.
The Ministry of Labour recently published Ordinance 790, amending Regulatory Standard 34 on Working and Environmental Conditions in the Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Industry. The amendments also regulate ship demolition activities. According to the Ministry of Labour, this is because the Brazilian fleet is aging and thus the demand for ship demolition activities may increase.
A majority of the Supreme Court recently ruled that the rules and international treaties limiting the liability of passenger airline carriers – in particular, the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions – prevail over the Consumer Protection Code. Among other things, this decision means that the value of compensation for lost luggage will be limited to the threshold set out in Article 22 of the Warsaw Convention and the amendments made by subsequent international agreements.
Legislative Bill 5018/2016, which is pending approval in the House of Representatives, requires vessels to use an automatic system to measure fuel during navigation. The bill seeks to increase the safety of navigation by preventing vessels from beginning their journeys using precarious methods to assess the quantity of fuel, which can result in fuel exhaustion – a serious risk for the safety of passengers and crew and navigation of the vessel.
The government recently enacted two measures regarding the cruising permit fees that each charter boat must pay while carrying paying passengers in the British Virgin Islands. Under the Cruising Permit (Amendment) Act, boats will now be classified as either home-based or foreign-based charter boats, with set fees for each classification. The Statutory Rates, Fees and Charges (Amendment of Schedule) Order 2017 confirms these fees for internal government purposes.
A recent Valparaiso Court of Appeal decision restricts the application of criminal liability for spills that cause damage to hydro-biological resources to cases associated with malicious acts. Although the first-instance court held that the provision covered negligence, as the introduction of polluting agents could be the result of an accident, the Valparaiso Court of Appeal reversed that decision and held that, under the Constitution, no law establishes penalties if the conduct is not expressly described therein.
Chile is a party to the 1992 Civil Liability Convention. Approval of the amendments to the limitation amounts contained in the convention has been a positive step towards harmonisation with the international community. However, the adoption of the 1992 Fund Convention and the Supplementary Fund Protocol continue to be important missing parts of the international compensation regime, exposing Chile to the pollution contingency above its 89.7 million special drawing rights cap.
The Maritime Authority is authorised to initiate a maritime enquiry into accidents and losses involving vessels or persons in Chilean territorial waters, channels, lakes or navigable rivers to determine the causes and the parties responsible. When civil liability arising from a collision is sought at trial, the causes set out in the Maritime Authority's resolution are deemed to be true, unless proven otherwise.
There are no specific regulations in Chile regarding the nature of security that may be requested by claimants on the arrest of a vessel. Protection and indemnity insurance club letters of undertaking were previously accepted only if agreed by the arrest petitioner. However, in a recent case the court hearing the arrest accepted a letter of undertaking with no prior approval from the arrest petitioner.
Article 1203 of the Commerce Code establishes that maritime disputes must be resolved through arbitral proceedings. However, some parties seek to override this mandatory provision. The Valparaiso Court of Appeal recently confirmed that shipping disputes must go through arbitration and held that an ordinary court had no competence to hear a shipping dispute.
For local lawyers working in the shipping and transport sector at the domestic level, the question of whether Colombia really is a Hague/Hague-Visby Rules jurisdiction has been posed on many occasions. In particular, despite the fact that Colombia has not yet properly ratified any of the existing instruments available internationally, the relevant section of the Commercial Code has supposedly been founded on the Hague Rules.
The implications of the new International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) amendment on verified gross mass have been widely discussed in the shipping industry. The concept of 'estimated weight' was recently abandoned and all interests must now collaborate to determine the 'verified gross mass' of any packed container that is to be loaded on board any ship to which Chapter IV of SOLAS applies. Resolution 2793 addresses this issue in Colombia.
Although contracts pertaining to the multimodal carriage of goods are not regulated at the international level, some jurisdictions have their own instruments which address the matter at a regional level, such as the Andean Multimodal Regime. Although case law on the application of the regime is minimal, a recent court decision recognised its mandatory nature in a case pertaining to liability under a multimodal carriage contract.