The Shipping Deputy Ministry recently informed the registered owners, charterers, ship managers and representatives of Cyprus-flagged ships of a number of new circular letters issued by the International Maritime Organisation. All owners and managers of Cyprus-flagged ships are advised to take note and implement the measures contained in the circular letters and the interim advice for ship operators prepared at the request of the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety.
In order to support shipping companies and owners of Cyprus-flagged ships and mitigate the difficulties arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, the Shipping Deputy Ministry has extended the deadline for paying tonnage tax for Cyprus ships and the Register of Cyprus Ships annual maintenance fee to 31 May 2020. The ministry has also introduced special arrangements in order to protect public health and limit the spread of the virus.
The Shipping Deputy Ministry recently issued a circular on cyber risk which recognises the need to raise awareness of cyber-risk threats and vulnerabilities to support safe and secure shipping. 'Maritime cyber risk' refers to a measure of the extent to which a technology asset could be threatened by a potential circumstance or event, which may result in shipping-related operational, safety or security failures as a consequence of information or systems being corrupted, lost or compromised.
The Shipping Deputy Ministry has issued Circular 1/2020 informing shipowners, charterers and ship managers that, following the formal assessment of the Cyprus tonnage tax scheme, the European Commission has concluded that Cyprus's relevant scheme is compatible with the internal market and in line with the Guidelines on State Aid to Maritime Transport.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently issued a circular on measures to minimise the risks of coronavirus to seafarers, passengers and others on board ships and directed interested parties to the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO's) Circular Letter 4204, which provides additional guidance on how to minimise the risks to the maritime industry. All owners and managers of ships flying the Cyprus flag are strongly urged to promulgate the information in IMO Circular Letter 4204.
The Shipping Deputy Ministry recently issued the Merchant Shipping (Fees and Dues with respect to Ocean Going Commercial Cyprus Ships) Regulations, which contain the new fees and charges payable for ocean-going commercial ships registered in Cyprus. In particular, the regulations cover fees concerning the registration of ships and other transactions with the shipping registry (eg, ship certificates and applications for the transfer of ownership or name change of a ship).
In an effort to minimise disruption to the shipping industry deriving from Brexit, the Shipping Deputy Ministry has undertaken a number of contingency measures. However, the ministry has emphasised that affected parties must also make their own preparations for the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union and that where new authorisations, licences or certificates will be required post-Brexit, each party will be responsible for applying in good time.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently updated its policy on the eligibility of ships to be registered under the Cyprus flag. The policy stipulates additional requirements beyond those set out in the Merchant Shipping Registration of Ships, Sales and Mortgages Law and should therefore be read in conjunction with the relevant legal provisions.
The admiralty jurisdiction of the Supreme Court recently ruled in a case concerning a marine accident which occurred when the bow of a sailing boat rammed the starboard side of a speedboat. It was highly disputed whether the sailing boat had been simultaneously using open sails and its engine. In reaching its conclusion, the court considered the evidence and the Rules of the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently announced its decision to replace the International Safety Management Code Form and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code Form with a new consolidated form in an effort to reduce paperwork and avoid the duplication of information. All interested entities are requested to use the new form to declare the particulars of companies or ships under the code and to comply with relevant circulars.
The Cyprus Flag Administration recently imposed additional requirements on the development, implementation and certification of safety management systems over and above those which have been set out in the International Safety Management Code since 1998. The consolidated edition of the additional requirements replaces a previous version published in 2006 and recognised organisations are required to implement its terms and conditions immediately.
The recent Ministerial Order on Safety Zones was published with the purpose of ensuring the safety of the Stena IceMax drillship and the safety of navigation during the period that it will be used to drill in the Cyprus Continental Shelf and exclusive economic zone. The order establishes a safety zone at a distance of 500 metres from the drillship. Unless a vessel has obtained the requisite licence from the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, it cannot (bar a few exceptions) enter, navigate or remain within the safety zone.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping (DMS) recently issued the 2016 Amendments to the Code of the Maritime Labour Convention. The amendments affect maritime labour certificates and declarations of maritime labour compliance. In this regard, the DMS has announced that existing certificates and declarations will remain valid until their expiry date.
The Merchant Shipping (Fees and Taxing Provisions) Law 2010 requires that, in order to qualify for the tonnage tax scheme, EU-flagged ships must account for at least a specified minimum percentage of the taxpayer's fleet. The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently announced the outcome of its review of companies that entered the tonnage tax system between 1 January 2015 and 1 January 2016.
The Merchant Shipping (Fees and Taxing Provisions) Law 2010 imposes a surcharge on the tonnage tax payable on qualifying vessels registered in countries which appear on the 'grey list' or 'black list' of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding. On the basis of the 2017 annual report of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding, the Deputy Ministry of Shipping has determined a list of flags that are included in the relevant grey or black list for the purposes of calculating tonnage tax for 2018.
Cyprus is one of the world's most important locations for ship management, with approximately 60 ship management companies operating in its territory. Since 2009 the Central Bank of Cyprus's statistics department has carried out semi-annual market surveys which collect data on the financial transactions between Cyprus's resident ship management companies and non-residents of Cyprus. The most recent survey, which covers the first half of 2018, was published on 1 November 2018.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently announced that the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments will enter into force in Cyprus on 8 November 2018. The Cyprus shipping authorities will apply the requirements of the convention to ships that fly the flag of a country which is not a party to the convention to the extent necessary to ensure that they are not treated more favourably than ships flying the flag of parties to the convention.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping has announced that an English translation of the Merchant Shipping (Recognition and Authorisation of Organisations) Law 2011 is now available on its website. The law sets out common rules and standards for organisations that inspect and survey Cyprus-flagged ships and regulates dealings between such organisations and the Cyprus Maritime Administration. The definitive text of the law is in Greek and the translation is for information purposes.
A recent Supreme Court decision considered the principles of agency and functions of bills of lading and provided a useful summary of this area of law. The case demonstrates the importance of expressly specifying the capacity in which various parties are acting when negotiating or entering into a contract – for example, whether they are acting as principals in their own right or as agents on behalf of someone else.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently issued a circular informing recognised organisations, security organisations, registered owners, bareboat charterers, managers and representatives of ships flying the Cyprus flag that it now accepts statutory certificates issued to Cyprus-flagged vessels by recognised organisations in electronic form, provided that they satisfy the International Maritime Organisation requirements set out in its Guidelines for the Use of Electronic Certificates.