Marine Link
Thursday, May 30, 2024

IMO Legal Committee to Discuss Seafarer Abandonment

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 21, 2024

Source: IMO

Source: IMO

The Legal Committee of the IMO will meet for its 111th session at IMO Headquarters in London from April 22 to 26, 2024.  

The Committee deals with any legal matters within the scope of the IMO, including issues relating to liability and compensation, fair treatment of seafarers and the registration of ships. This meeting will discuss:

1. Abandonment of seafarers

Seafarer abandonment happens when shipowners fail to fulfil obligations to seafarers related to timely repatriation, payment of outstanding wages or salary, and even the provision of basic necessities such as food, accommodation and medical care.  

There has been an alarming rise in the number of cases of abandonment reported to IMO, with a considerable number of cases still unresolved. In 2023, 142 new cases were reported, compared to 109 incidents in 2022, 95 in 2021 and 85 cases in 2020. Previously, between 40 to 55 incidents were reported each year between 2017 and 2019, while a range of 12 to 19 cases were reported per year between 2011 and 2016.  

The Committee is expected to establish a new task force to review and update the joint ILO/IMO abandonment database. This work will then be submitted for further consideration by the Joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group to identify and address seafarers' issues and the human element (JTWG).

2. Fair treatment of seafarers detained on suspicion of committing maritime crimes

The unfair treatment of seafarers when detained on suspicion of committing maritime crimes remains a serious issue. It poses a threat to future sustainability of the sector, negatively affecting the morale of seafarers and recruitment of qualified young people into the seafaring profession.  

The Committee is expected to finalize draft guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers detained on suspicion of committing maritime crimes, to be submitted as a base text to the Joint IMO-ILO Tripartite Working Group for consideration and refinement.  

3. Fraudulent registration and fraudulent registries of ships

In 2019, the IMO Assembly adopted a resolution on Measures to prevent the fraudulent registration and fraudulent registries of ships (A.1142(31)). The Legal Committee (LEG 109) subsequently established a study group to initiate a comprehensive study to address all issues arising in connection with fraudulent registration and fraudulent registries of ships, and possible measures to prevent and combat them.  

The Committee will consider the final report of the Study Group on Fraudulent Registration and Fraudulent Registries of Ships. This report recommends a number of actions, including the development of guidelines or best practices for the registration of ships. The Study Group was composed of the World Maritime University (WMU), the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMO IMLI) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

4. Measures to assess the need to amend liability limits

The Legal Committee deals with issues related to liability and compensation for damage caused by ships, such as pollution. In such situations, it is important to have a system that enables liability to be determined and ensures that any compensation due is paid.

The Committee is expected to finalize and approve the following methodologies to transparently assess the need to amend liability limits:

• methodology for the collection and reporting of experiences of incidents and resulting damage; and

• methodology for assessing changes in monetary value.

The Committee will also decide the appropriate vehicle for the inclusion of the agreed methodologies in IMO regulation.

5. Guidance for the proper implementation and application of IMO liability and compensation conventions

The Committee is expected to finalize and approve the revision of the Guidelines for accepting insurance companies, financial security providers and the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Associations (P & I Clubs) (CL No.3464).

The Committee will also finalize and approve the text of a draft information pamphlet on the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 2002.

6. Addressing Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS)  

The Committee will discuss legal issues related to the regulation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) - commercial vessels that can operate (to varying degrees) independent of human interaction.

The Committee is expected to consider and approve the report of the Joint MSC-LEG-FAL Working Group on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS-JWG), which held its second session in April 2023. The Joint Working Group brings together the Maritime Safety Committee, Legal Committee and Facilitation Committee to address common issues related to MASS. The report includes recommendations pertaining to the role and responsibilities of the MASS master, MASS crew, the remote operator and remote operation centers.  

7. Piracy and armed robbery of ships

The Committee will be updated on key developments in legal issues related to piracy and armed robbery of ships since the previous session (LEG 110).  

Proposals regarding the work program of the Committee as well as urgent measures to address Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden will be considered.

Subscribe for
Maritime Reporter E-News

Maritime Reporter E-News is the maritime industry's largest circulation and most authoritative ENews Service, delivered to your Email five times per week