In the context of lease financing transactions, it is not uncommon for the financier (registered owner) to refinance part of the transaction by recourse to third-party lenders, concluding a loan agreement which is typically secured by a mortgage over the vessel. Under Italian law, a charterer's right to enjoyment of a vessel receives a certain level of protection even if nothing is specifically agreed by the parties and no letter of quiet enjoyment is issued.
The Italian International Registry provides a number of substantial fiscal advantages to shipowners. However, the European Commission recently established an EU pilot procedure against Italy to enquire into the nature of the advantages that Italy has made available to ships registered in the registry. The European Commission's message was taken on board and measures are now being discussed to amend national legislation so that it conforms to EU principles.
As of January 1 2017, the EU Passenger Liability Regulation applies to Class A ships sailing Italian domestic voyages, as defined under the EU Directive on Safety Rules and Standards for Passenger Ships. Accordingly, such ships can limit their liability, pursuant to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974, and must fulfil the relevant compulsory insurance duties.
With Parliament's recent passage of Act 230, the long-awaited reform of the Italian legal regime regulating maritime pilots' liability has now come to fruition. The amendments introduced to the Code of Navigation establish a system based on limitation of liability and compulsory insurance. Pilots' representatives have welcomed the reform.
In a recent decision of the Tribunal of Genoa, the court applied established principles on the liability of sub-carriers towards cargo claimants in circumstances where a freight forwarder is charged with the transport of goods and thereafter instructs the sub-carrier. In particular, the court addressed potential direct liabilities towards the cargo interests of the sub-carriers involved.
An Italian court was recently asked to decide on an interesting issue relating to cross-border insolvency and ship arrests. Although few authorities are available in Italy in this respect, the question as to which effects of insolvency proceedings are recognised across jurisdictions has generated increasing interest in light of the financial distress that many shipowners face in the present economic climate.
The Cagliari Court of Appeal recently issued a judgment in which it addressed and clarified the nature of the two-year time limit for claims stipulated in Article 23 of the Salvage Convention 1989. The court confirmed the two-year limit in this case, holding that in circumstances where salvage operations have been carried out, numerous interests are often involved and the need for certainty is crucial.
The recent decision in Chuang's China Treasury Ltd v Euronavi srl addressed the application of the 1952 Arrest Convention to circumstances where the credit for which security is sought is that of a subcontractor towards a shipyard for works performed when building a vessel. The judgment is of practical application and is relevant to most cases of shipyard insolvency.
The Genoa Court of Appeal recently issued an interesting decision on the scope of application of the Hague-Visby rules. In particular, the court was asked to decide on the application of the limit of liability set down by the rules in circumstances where the cargo to be carried suffered damages during loading operations and before the relevant bill of lading was issued.
A recent Supreme Court decision has refocused attention on the issue of incorporating arbitration clauses by reference to common charterparty forms contained within fixture recaps. This has been a point of contention for many years within the shipping industry, giving rise to numerous disputes and great uncertainty in the interpretation of charterparties and fixture recaps.
Two decisions represent the Italian courts' only interpretations of the wording of the Institute Classification Clause. The notion that the cargo classification clause requires full classification of a vessel without recommendations is controversial - it takes no account of the evolution of the clause or the differences between its literal formulation and that of the corresponding classification clause for hull and machinery insurance cover.