Brexit has given rise to a new opportunity for the Malta Ship Registry to consolidate its prominent global maritime flag position and may have a lasting positive impact in this respect. However, the uncertainties caused by Brexit are not the only reason why Malta is a popular flag choice; this article outlines some of the additional benefits.
The Malta maritime flag is chosen by corporate entities and individual owners alike for both commercial and pleasure crafts of all types and sizes. Owners have various options when it comes to deciding the ownership structure for a vessel that is to be registered under the Malta flag. However, non-Maltese owners must appoint a resident agent that is habitually resident in Malta for the purposes of acting as a channel of communication between the Maltese authorities and the non-Maltese owner.
A creditor recently obtained a Section 37 order on a provisional basis from the Maltese courts as security for a claim arising from a dispute under a charterparty. The purpose of the order was to prohibit the sale, transfer or deregistration of the vessel while the merits of the case were being determined. While the law allows owners to opt to deposit security, the legislature has catered for these instances to ensure that creditors' rights are not prejudiced.
The Malta flag is often considered a flag of choice for shipowners, charterers and financiers alike. Among the various aspects which make the Malta flag an attractive option are the Tonnage Tax Rules. Legal Notice 128/2018 has significantly contributed to the further enhancement of the Maltese legal framework, and the response by management companies to this new scheme has been positive.
A Section 37 injunction allows creditors, in circumstances which give rise to a maritime claim attracting the jurisdiction of the Maltese courts in rem, to obtain a court order which prohibits the vessel from being sold or entering any further mortgages until the merits of the case have been decided in the appropriate jurisdiction. This has proven to be a useful and effective tool for protecting maritime claims.