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Protection of Cyprus ships from acts of piracy and other illegal acts
New legislation on the measures to be taken to protect Cyprus ships from acts of piracy and other illegal acts is currently passing through the Cyprus Parliament.
The draft law currently before the Parliament affirms the general principle that the necessary measures must be taken for the safety of the ship and the prevention of illegal acts in accordance with Chapter XI-2 of the SOLAS Convention, the ISPS Code and EC Regulation 725/2004. Additional measures, including the use of private security firms, may be taken when a vessel enters a high risk area.
The draft law sets out:
- a process for the Cyprus authorities to grant operators of Cyprus ships permission to employ private security contractors to protect a vessel.
- the licensing process for private security firms wishing to provide services to Cyprus ships. Firms which are not incorporated in Cyprus will be required to appoint an authorised representative in Cyprus.
- the rights and obligations of the master, crew and other persons on board Cyprus ships, including rights of arrest and detention vis à vis persons that have committed or purported to commit an illegal act against the vessel, its cargo or the persons onboard.
The draft law also deals with the obligation to compensate persons on board Cyprus ships for damage resulting from the fault or negligence of the servants of private security contractors. Contractors may contractually limit their liability and the shipowner and the person controlling the ship may rely on the limitations contained in the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims of 1976 as amended by the 1996 Protocol ("the Convention"), which covers claims in respect of loss of life, personal injury and damage to property.
The Merchant Shipping (Shipowners' Insurance for Maritime Claims) Law of 2012, which transposed EU Directive 2009/20/EC into Cyprus law, requires owners of ships of 300 gross tonnes or more that fly the Cyprus flag or, irrespective of flag, call at Cyprus ports or operate within Cyprus's territorial waters, to have insurance in place in respect of such claims that cover the relevant limits laid down in the Convention.
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