Maritime Law is the genre of law relating to navigation and commerce on the high seas and on other navigable waters. Ideally, the term refers to the body of customs, legislation, international treaties, and court decisions pertaining to ownership and operation of vessels, transportation of passengers and cargo on them, and rights and obligations of their crews while in transit.
The origins of maritime law go back to antiquity. Because no country has jurisdiction over the high seas, it has been necessary for nations to reach agreements regarding ways of dealing with ships, crews, and cargoes when disputes arise. The earliest agreements were probably based on a study of ancient customs that had developed as practical solutions to common problems. Numerous of these customs became part of Roman civil law. After the fall of the Roman Empire, maritime commerce was disrupted for about 500 years. Thereafter maritime activity resumed in the Middle Ages, various disputes arose and laws were formulated to deal with them. Gradually the laws of the sea were complied; among the best-known collections of early maritime law are the Laws of Oleron and the Black Book of the Admiralty, an English compilation of prepared during 14th and 15th centuries. Special courts to administer sea laws were set up in some countries. In Great Britain, maritime law is administered by courts of the admiralty. The overall impact of maritime law cut across all boarders. Remarkable turnaround was experienced in the area of propagation and eventual abolition of slavery in America.
To start with, maritime law is essentially though not exclusively about shipping and correlated activities. Shipping today remains the highly competitive and thus constantly challenging industry. Innovations in modern shipping practice; it also challenged the law to response to things changing circumstances. It is also important to bear in mind that ships are potentially (Super-Lethal Weapons) in the hands of their owners. They are of vast size and weight as well as of ever increasing sophistication through them sometimes unthinkable damage has been done to the seas, persons and or property. Thus, placing responsibility for making the laws or damage on the owners. It is not surprising therefore that a great part of the shipping law of any maritime nations have enacted as a resulting of the collective signing of some International Conventions aimed at addressing the problems arising from shipping operations.
Maritime laws are laws applied to maritime cases and matters. It is a fact that all fields of human endeavors, laws are necessary to provide them with sanctions, guidance and a framework for the resolution of dispute. We recognize that majority of the Planet Earth is covered with seas and occurs. To get from one part of it to another it has since time immemorial necessary to transverse large bodies of waters.
Through the ages, humans have been compelled to transverse the oceans in vessel of increasing sophistication in pursuit of trade and commerce, acquisition of new territories, exchange of ideas, diplomatic relations sporting relations e.t.c. It is only natural that myriad of problems requiring detail regulation will arise from the seemingly simple interaction of human beings with the waters that covers the Earth. As ships transverse from one country to another they have to ensure that they comply with two set of laws namely: – 1. Those applicable in their State of origin and 2. Those applicable in their State of destination.
Similarly, machinery must exist to facilitate the solution of problems arising between the owners of ships and owners of cargos or between ship of two vessels which collide or indeed between ship owners and those who render assistance to them in times of trouble or difficulty. Marine lives as well as the environment have to be protected from pollution of hazardous or natural substances carried in ship and likely to be discharged into the sea in times of emergency or even deliberately. Hence, the simple process of ships traversing the oceans from one country to another or more often to a succession of country is forthwith potential conflicts and problems especially legal problem. That is what maritime law is all about. We can see from the foregoing that there are two different aspects of maritime law: – The Internal Regulation of each particular State and – Regulation governing the relationship authority of the State and other States.
The Emergence/Establishment of NIMASA: Matrimony between NMA, JOMALIC
Prior to the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) through the Act the National Assembly, the two existing maritime regulatory bodies were National Maritime Authority (NMA) and the Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC).
While JOMALIC was responsible for the regulation of maritime labour activities, the NMA was in charge of other regulations, including safety and pollution. The country recorded tremendous success in maritime labour regulations because of the caliber of management staff headed by Alhaji Tijani Ramalam, who enjoyed a lot of stability as he remained the agencies only chief execute before it became defunct. The “strange” peace pervaded the maritime labour sector unprecedented throughout Ramalan’s tenure that government because unwilling to change a winning team.
In a bid for the country to realize part of her shipping policy objectives, which is to strengthen the regulatory environment, the National Maritime Authority (NMA) was established by Decree 10 of 1987. This body was later merged with the Government Inspector of Shipping (GIS) and Maritime Inspectorate Division (MID) as a conscious policy strategy with the aim of evolving a strong regulatory framework for the Maritime sector in Nigeria, the body was further merged with the former Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC). Then it became National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the 1st August, 2006.
It was first established administratively and it remained like that until May 2007 before it was legally established to combine the functions of two merged organizations.
The Act spelt out the qualification of anyone that can be appointed as the Director General when it said:
“The President on the recommendation of Minister shall appoint a Director General for the Agency in accordance with the provision of Sections 6 and 7 of this Act, which says: “The President on recommendation of the Minister, shall appoint to the board only persons with relevant experience and capacity applicable to maritime administration, recognized expert knowledge, qualification and security, maritime pollution, nautical sciences and hydrograph, maritime engineering, finance, maritime laws, transport logistics, administration and maritime labour”.
The government has hitherto acted in consonance with the provisions of the Act. The first Director General of the Agency, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, a maritime lawyer, who worked relentlessly to ensure a new beginning and a new foundation for the sector.
She was however removed in the year 2007 to usher in Dr. Shamsudeen Dosunmu, a seasoned administrator and a more humble and amiable gentleman. His appointment also conformed to the provisions of NIMASA Act contrary to speculations from some elements widely considered as mischief-makers. Aftermath was the appointment of Temisan Omatseye as the new Director-General of the body (NIMASA) who assumed office on the 10th July, 2009.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, is committed to the enthronement of global best practices in the provision of maritime services in Nigeria. Their areas of focus include effective Maritime Safety Administration, Maritime Labour Regulation, Marine Pollution Prevention and Control, Search and Rescue, Cabotage enforcement, Shipping Development and Ship Registration, Training and Certification of Seafarers, and Maritime Capacity Development. Using modern tools that guarantee efficiency and effectiveness, NIMASA are determined to develop indigenous capacity and eliminate all hindrance.
The Nigerian Ship Registration Office was established by S. 28 (2) of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety agency Act 2007. The office is mandated to enter ships into the Central Ship Registry created by S. 16 (1) of the Nigerian Merchant Shipping Act 2007 and the Special Register for Vessels and Ship-owning Companies engaged in Cabotage established by S. 22 of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003. The office was initially under the office of the Government Inspector of Shipping, a ministerial department under the Nigerian Ministry of Transport until 2002 when the office of the Government Inspector of Shipping was subsumed under the then National Maritime Authority (now the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency).
The Ship Registry registers all types of vessels including fixed/mobile platforms and oil rigs, provided they are owned by persons who are by the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act (See sections 18 and 19) and the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 eligible to own Nigerian vessels. According to S. 18(1) of the Merchant Shipping Act;
Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) of this section and of any rules made or deemed to have been made here-under, a ship shall not be registered in Nigeria under this Act unless the ship is owned wholly by persons of the following descriptions (in this Act referred to as “persons qualified to own a registered Nigerian ship”)
(a) Nigerian citizens; (b) Bodies corporate and partnerships established under and subject to Nigerian laws, having their principal place of business in Nigeria; (c) Such other persons as the Minister may, by regulations prescribed.
The Nigerian certificate of registry has a 5 year validity period. Upon the expiration of this initial period, every ship-owner is required to apply for the renewal of the vessel’s registration. The application is to be supported by the following documents:
Formal letter of application by the registered or authorized representative
Copy Of Certificate of Incorporation
CTC of Memo and Articles of Association
CTC of Form CAC7 (Particulars of Directors)
CTC of Form CAC2 (Allotment of Shares)
Current Tax Clearance Certificate
Completed Declaration of Ownership Form with Passport photograph attached
Return of expired certificate of Registry
Completed application for registration of Form
Condition Survey Report
NIMASA official receipt of payment of registration
Annual Survey report of the preceding 3 years
Meanwhile, under the Merchant Shipping Act 2007, the Registrar may cancel the registration of a ship registered in Nigeria at any time the ship: • Appears to be registered also in a foreign country
• Ceases to comply with the requirements for qualification to own Nigerian ships under Merchant Shipping Act 2007
• Appears to be lost, abandoned or broken up
The owner may also apply for the cancellation of registry of the ship supported with the following documents: • Board Resolution authorizing the cancellation
• Return of certificate of registry
• Evidence of payment of official fees for issuance of certificate of cancellation
It must be further noted that aside all the above specific powers, functions and institutional framework of NIMASA, the Agency still performs some special oversight functions such as their contribution to the education sector, battle against corruption within the Maritime sector, Community and humanitarian services, tourism and the representation of Nigeria’s interest at the International level. In November 7, 2012, it was reported that NIMASA donated cash and relief materials worth 21 million naira to some affected communities in Anambra state. NIMASA is also credited for the Maritime Institute at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Around September last year, some top officials on the management board of the Integrated Oil & Gas Limited were also arrested by the Agency for malpractices. The Agency also, recently in June, formalized an age-long agreement with the International Labour Organization (ILO), further strengthening Nigeria’s relationship with the international community especially in the field of maritime.
Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has concluded plans to commence yearly inspection of port facilities in order to ensure effective implementation of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code. Director-General of the agency, Mr Ziakede Akpobolokemi, made this disclosure at a World Press Conference on the progress made so far with the new Designated Authority (DA) for ISPS Code implementation. He said NIMASA immediately set out to institute a fresh implementation programme as soon as it received the DA mandate formally with an official letter issued by the Ministry of Transport on May 21, 2013 adding that the supposed 90-day ultimatum issued by the US government to Nigeria requiring compliance with the ISPS Code was actually issued in April and was prior to NIMASA being appointed the DA.
He informed that the implementation was not being fast tracked for the deadline, but has always been an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requirement which NIMASA has been working towards, but coincidentally falls within the window period issued by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). He further stressed that NIMASA has organized a general stakeholders’ conference to announce the new arrangement and get feelings of the public on the imminent activities and programmes to accompany the new ISPS implementation. He revealed that an action plan has been developed and activated to close reported gaps. These, he said, include dispatching competent Recognised Security Organisations (RSOs) to conduct security surveys and assessments aimed at identifying and correcting deficiencies and other observed vulnerabilities.
‘‘NIMASA has focused not only on Port Facilities (PFs) listed in the United States Coast Guard report, but on the generality of PFs in the nation’s maritime domain. This action plan has been given a nod by the USCG and it has pledged to support the efforts of the DA in ensuring the issues raised are remedied,’’ he said adding that the DA has outlined its implementation framework in the form of a handbook to enable the public understand its agenda with respect to this new implementation regime. The Agency has also inaugurated a committee to help oversee the mandate. The committee members include staff of NIMASA, the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Police, State Security Service (SSS), Customs and Immigrations among others. The committee is also taking a stock of all the nation’s coastal maritime assets in order to establish the number, location and nature of operations of all PFs and jetties in the country. The audit will help the DA capture and catalogue all port/berthing facilities, as well as verifying their ISPS Code compliance status.
NIMASA recently concluded Verification Inspection Exercises (VIE) on all shore-based PFs in the country. The report of the VIE will form the basis for re-certification of the PFs in line with ISPS Code requirements. PFs deemed non-compliant will not be recertified and in extreme cases, attract added punitive action. The DG said talks were at an advanced stage with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the strict monitoring of entry and exit into Nigeria’s port facilities with the aid of Electronic Access Systems (EAS). The Agency said one of its observations after taking over as the DA was lack of understanding of the ISPS Code, its relevance and application by various stakeholders. This was also captured in the US diplomatic note as security personnel were found to be ignorant of the code. To address this, policies and measures are being put in place to ensure that more training and capacity building the security personnel in the maritime sector.
According to the NIMASA Act of 2007, s.22(c), the powers and functions of the agency includes administering the registration and licensing of ships and to regulate and administer the certification of seafarers. The Agency is also empowered to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act of 2003.
SHIP REGISTRY REFORMS UNDER NIMASA ACT
Prior to the enactment of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act 2007 and the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 2007, the Nigerian ship registry operated by NIMASA was governed by the provisions of the old Merchant Shipping Act of 1962. It is well known that the provisions of the old MSA regarding registration of ships were quite restrictive and a detriment to the growth of our flag registry in particular the requirement that only ships wholly owned by “commonwealth citizen/companies” could be registered. Desirous not to be bugged down by the lack of progress on the Merchant Shipping Bill, NIMASA Act drafted in 2006 pursuant to the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (“the Agency”) cleverly sought to fill in the gap by introducing crucial reforms in line with international practice in progressive ships registries.
Section28, of NIMASA Act 2007 establishes the Nigerian Ship Registration Office whose key function is to register ships in accordance with the provisions of the NIMASA Act and MSA and its amendments. The Repeals under Part XIV of NIMASA Act and the Consequential Amendments in the First Schedule of the NIMASA Act contains suitable provisions which would have sufficed to reform the ship registry whether or not a new MSA was enacted.
It is important to note that what is commonly and hitherto officially referred to as Nigerian Ship Registry is now by statute called the “Nigerian Ship Registration Office”. This, I believe must have been informed by the international practice where a Ship Registration Office has almost a quasi-autonomous status, is vested with a lot of powers as is required to run an efficient, competitive and safety conscious registry. To buttress the importance of this office, it is the only office in the Agency apart from the Executive Directors and Board members whose appointment statutory must have Ministerial approval. In order to reduce time and cost to operators, the Act permits the establishment of branch Registry Offices as may be required to further commerce and efficient service delivery.
The office of Deputy Registrars of Ships is another innovation which well implemented will enhance the competitive edge of the Ship Registration Office. The number of Deputy Registrars shall be as determined by the Agency whose decision in this respect should be guided by commercial expediency. The Deputy Registrar is expected to work under the direction of the Registrar and as is the case with the Registrar, appointment is by the Director General but with the approval of the Minister of Transportation. Office of Deputy Registrar is quite important in the sense the Act permits the delegation by the Registrar or the Agency of all the powers and duties of the Registrar to the Deputy Registrar except of course, the power to further delegate to another.
The Act also provide for the appointment of Deputy Registrars. NIMASA Act however goes further to state categorically that the Registrar of Ships and the Deputy Registrars must be appointed “from the staff of the Agency”. The mischief the NIMASA Act seeks to remedy is the practice of allowing extraneous considerations to affect the appointment, deployment and placement of staff and to ensure career progression for NIMASA staff. It is one of the numerous provisions in the Act which aims to promote expertise and professionalism within the Agency.
Maritime administrators and operators who have visited or have interacted with Registrars of Ship in major shipping countries will appreciate this innovation as they would be aware of the enormous responsibility and powers wielded by Registrars of Ships. Registrars of Ships are respected and feared by operators in some jurisdictions more than they do to the Chief Executives of their Agencies. The key role and enhanced powers of the office of the Registrar is emphasized by the mandatory requirements for a seal specifically under the control and use of the Registrar. The seal is to be accorded judicial notice in all judicial proceedings.
SHIP REGISTRY REFORMS UNDER NIMASA ACT 2007 AND MSA 2007
“…prior to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act (NIMASA Act) 2007 and the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 2007, the Nigerian Ship Registry operated by NIMASA was governed by the provisions of the old Merchant Shipping Act of 1962. Thus, it is observed that the restrictive qualifications regarding the eligibility of vessels for registration in the Nigerian Ship Registration Office as contained in the 1962 MSA had without doubt contributed to the low tonnage and were a disincentive to registration of vessels in Nigeria. However, embracing a more progressive approach, a combination of NIMASA Act 2007 and the new MSA Act 2007 has introduced innovation that puts the Nigerian Ship Registration Office at par with other progressive Registries Worldwide. In order, to make the Registry flexible and in line with what obtains in several other registries, the Act does not require that Nigerian owned ships must be “owned wholly by Nigerian citizen”.
Section 16provides for the registration of ships as follows:
There shall be maintained a Central Ship Registry for the registration and licensing of Registry of Nigerian ships.
The Minister may, from time to time, by notice published in the Gazette appoint other places for the registration of ships and at each such place there may be appointed a fit person to be the Registrar of ships.
No Registrar shall be liable to damages or otherwise for any loss accruing to any person by reason of any act done or default made by him as Registrar, unless the default happened through his neglect or willful default.
For the purposes of this part of this Act, Registrar includes a Deputy Registrar.
For the purposes of this part of this Act, “ship” includes any barge, lighter or like vessel used in navigation in Nigeria and however propelled, so however, that no self-propelled vessel which is less than fifteen (15) gross tons shall be subject to registration.
The Act further affirms the obligation to register ships as follows:
(1).Whenever a ship is owned wholly by persons qualified to own a registered Nigerian ship, the ship shall be registered in Nigeria in the manner provided in this part of this Act or in any other country in accordance with the laws of that country, unless the ship is, pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, exempted from registration under this Act.
(2).The Minister may, if he thinks fit, by notice in the Gazette generally or specially exempt a ship not exceeding fifteen tons employed solely on the coasts or inland waters of Nigeria from registration under this Act.
(3).Any ship, other than a Nigerian licensed ship, which does not comply with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, shall not be recognized as a Nigerian ship.
(4).If the master of any ship which is owned wholly by persons qualified to own a registered Nigerian ship fails on demand to produce a certificate of registration of the ship or such other evidence to satisfy the Minister that the ship complies with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, the ship may be detained until that evidence is produced.
Also, Section 34, NIMASA Act, 2007 provides:
(1).Whenever a change occurs in the registered ownership of a ship registered in Nigeria, the change of ownership shall be endorsed on the certificate of registration by the Registrar at the ship’s port of registry, or by the Registrar or appropriate officer at any port at which the ship arrives after the registration officer is advised of the change by the Registrar at ship’s port of registry.
(2).The master shall, for the purpose of an endorsement of the certificate of registration of the ship by the Registrar at the ship’s port of registry, immediately deliver the certificate to the Registrar after the change, if the change occurs when the ship is at the port of registry but if the change, occurs during the absence of the ship from that port and the endorsement under this section is not made before her return, then upon her first return to that port.
(3).The Registrar at any port of registry, not being the ship’s port of registry, or any appropriate officer required by this section to make an endorsement on the certificate of registration of a ship registered in Nigeria, may require the master to deliver the ship’s certificate of registration to him, as long as the ship is not detained; and the master shall deliver the certificate accordingly.
(4).Where any Registrar, not being Registrar at the ship’s port registry, or any proper officer, makes an endorsement under this section in respect of any ship, he shall forthwith notify the Registrar at the ship’s port of any ship, he shall forthwith notify the Registrar at the ship’s port of registry.
(5).The master of a ship who fails to deliver the ship’s certificate of registration to a Registrar or the appropriate officer when required under this section to do so, commits an offence and on conviction is liable to fine not less than one hundred thousand Naira.
(6).Where the ownership of any ship registered in Nigeria is changed, the Registrar at the ship’s port of registry may, on the application of the owner of the ship, register the ship anew, notwithstanding that a new registration is not required under this part of this Act.
To this end, it is implicit in the various statutory provisions the extent of the statutory authority of the agency relating to the registration of vessels and taking a cue from Mrs. Mfong Ekong Usoro.
Small vessels including shipping vessels wholly owned by Nigerian residents or a joint ownership between Nigerian residents and Nigerian citizens are entitled to be registered under the NIMASA Act 2007. Such small vessels are to be operated solely by Nigerian residents, Nigerian citizens or by both Nigerian citizens and residents respectively. The critical aspect in this category is that the owners of the vessels must have a physical presence in Nigeria. Canoes and primitive boats engaged solely in artisan fishing are exempted. The significance of this innovation is that it provides inter alia the solution to some of the conflicts and duplicity of functions between government transport agencies notably NIMASA and NIWA. Registrations of small crafts/fishing vessels are now without question to be registered in and licensed by NIMASA. The MSA 2007 confirms this position by specifically stating that the function of the ship registry is “registration and licensing of Nigerian ships” and further requires the registrar of Ships to open a “Register for licensed ships below 15 gross tons”. This further underscores by the domestication of IMO Regulations on Non-Convention vessels under the MSA. The MSA categorically identified the Agency for Maritime Safety Administration as the implementing Agency for the Act. Nevertheless, for logistics and practicality considerations, NIMASA as Safety Agency can set the safety standards on small vessels generally because of the need or uniformity of standards while NIWA may be permitted to enforce those standards especially in the inland waterways where NIWA already has a presence.
NIGERIAN OWNED SHIPS
To make the Registry flexible and in line with what obtains in several other registries, the Act does not require that Nigerian owned ships must be “owned wholly by Nigerian citizen”. This flexibility arguably will therefore admit vessels owned by JV ventures registered in Nigeria and vessels owned by companies registered in Nigeria. The Act does not however specially define “Nigerian owned ships”. The term must therefore be constructed in the manner that aids the attainment of the intention of the Act and which does not contradict other sections of the Act i.e. registration of vessels with National Carrier Status discussed below. It is significant that where citizenship requirement was intended in the Act, the expressly uses the words “Nigerian citizens”. A good example is registration of “ships on bareboat charter to Nigerian citizens” as encapsulated in Section 34, NIMASA Act 2007).
Small vessels including shipping vessels wholly owned by Nigerian residents or a joint ownership or between Nigerian residents and Nigerian citizens. Such vessels are to be operated solely by Nigerian residents, Nigerian citizens or by both Nigerian citizens and residents. The critical aspect in this category is that the owners of the vessel must have a physical presence in Nigeria. Canoes and primitive boats engaged solely in artisan fishing are exempted.
The significance of this innovation is that it provides inter alia the solution to some of the conflicts and duplicity of functions between government transport agencies notable NIMASA and NIWA. Registration of small crafts/fishing vessels are now without question to be registered in and licensed by NIMASA. The MSA 2007 also confirms this position by specifically stating that the function of the ship registry is “registration and licensing of Nigerian ships” and further requires the Registrar of Ships to open a “Register for licensed ships below 15 gross tons”. This is further underscored by the domestication of IMO Regulations on Non-Convention vessels under the MSA. The MSA categorically identified the Agency for Maritime Safety Administration as the implementing Agency for the Act. Nevertheless, for logistics and practicality considerations, NIMASA as the Safety Agency can set the safety standards on small vessels generally because of the need for uniformity of standards while NIWA may be permitted to enforce those standards especially in the inland waterways where NIWA already has a presence.
SHIP OWNED BY COMPANIES/PARTNERSHIPS INCORPORATED IN NIGERIA
It is noteworthy that former requirement where only ship owned by commonwealth citizens and companies registered in Commonwealth countries were qualified to own Nigerian ships have been dropped in the new MSA. The MSA it must be pointed out, however retained erroneously the words “owned wholly” which was present in section 290(1) of old MSA thereby introducing a slight inconsistency between it and the provisions in the NIMASA Act with respect to degree of ownership of a registrable vessel. Section 18 of MSA 2007 is an exact reproduction of the old 290(1) in MSA of 1962 except the replacement of “Commonwealth” with “Nigeria”. It should be that the draftspersons(s) may have may have forgotten to delete the words “owned wholly”. It could be erroneous because if the intendment of the Act was to serve the local content principle, this had been adequately provided for in the Cabotage Act and the MSA need not have retained the wholly owned qualification since the aim of the MSA is to make our Registry modern and attractive.
Quite apart from the arguments above, insight as to the correct position could be garnered from the British Merchant Shipping Act and other former British dominion who’s Merchant Shipping Acts generally all follow the British precedence. Our MSA 2007 while introducing some innovation seemed to follow the style and format of the old MSA 1962 which itself was almost an exact replica of the 1984 British MSA. Had the draftspersons(s) studied the progressive innovations of the British registry starting from MSA 1983, 1988, 1993 and MSA 1995 particularly the MSA 1988 which introduced drastic amendments to MSA 1894, the problematic language “owned wholly” would not have been retained in S.18 of our new MSA 2007. The 1988 had amended Section 1 of 1984 MSA on qualification for owing British ship by opening up the category of registrable vessels to include inter alia a ship where “a majority interest in the ship is owned by persons who are qualified to be owners of British ships”. Within the context of the issue in question this meant that the owned wholly principle was repealed. The practice in British since then has been to incrementally remove restrictions on the ownership criteria for registration of vessels. In point of fact the most recent MSA 1995 simply provides that “A ship is entitled to be registered if it is owned, to the prescribed extent, by persons qualified to own British ships and A… registration regulations issued by the Secretary of State shall prescribe the extent of the ownership required for compliance A… and prescribe other requirements designed to secure that, taken in conjunction with the requisite ownership, only ships having a British connection are registered”.