EU Shipping Law

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Carriage of goods and passengers

A. Introduction

46.001 European Union (“EU”) law contains rules on the carriage of goods and passengers. In part, the EU’s motivation is to promote maritime safety and an efficient trading environment but also to be seen as protecting the safety of its citizens and those in the EU. There is little doubt that the EU is more likely to win favour from its citizens when it is seen to be protecting them and their goods. 46.002 The chapter takes a largely chronological approach to the topic.1 It begins by looking at the EU position relating to containers as they were among the first topics in this area to be addressed by the EU. The chapter then considers the registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships. It then considers the issue of liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of incidents. The regime relating to the statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods and passengers by sea is then examined. It is proposed to examine each of the measures in turn rather than seeking to unify them under various themes because there are no discernible themes which could easily unify the measures which are disparate. This chapter should be read in conjunction with many other chapters throughout the book because, at one level, the whole of EU shipping law is about the carriage of passengers and/or goods.

B. Containers

1979: Council Recommendation 79/487 on the ratification of the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC)

46.003 On 15 May 1979, the Council of Ministers adopted Recommendation 79/487 on the ratification of the International Convention for Safe Containers (the “CSC”) before 1 July 1980.2 It was a short and relatively simple measure. As a recommendation, it is not legally binding. The legal basis of the recommendation was the then European Economic Community (“EEC”) Treaty and in particular Articles 75 and 84(2) of that Treaty.3 The

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recommendation was preceded by an opinion by the Parliament4 as well as the Economic and Social Committee (“EESC”). 46.004 The factual background was that the CSC, which had been prepared within the framework of the United Nations Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (“IMCO”), entered into force on 6 September 1977. It was open for ratification or accession by EU Member States. The (then) EEC Council of Ministers believed (as expressed in the recommendation) that it was in the interest of the EU that all the Member States should ratify the convention. The Council therefore recommended that Member States ratify the CSC, or accede to it before 1 July 1980, where they had not already done so and inform the Secretary-General of IMCO in writing that their ratification or accession had regard to the recommendation.

C. Registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships


46.005 One of the practical problems posed by a number of ferry disasters up to the mid-1990s was that ships (particularly, ferries) would be involved in casualties (including sinkings) and there would be no accurate record (at least, ashore) of not only the names of who was on board but even how many were on board. This caused safety issues and challenges for the search and rescue services as well as trauma and uncertainty for families and friends of those who might, or might not, have been on board. These issues were highlighted by a number of very serious incidents involving the Herald of Free Enterprise and the Estonia ferries. The EU became “seriously concerned by shipping accidents involving passenger ships which have resulted in massive loss of life” while equally

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“persons using passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft throughout the Community have the right to expect and to be able to rely on an appropriate level of safety and upon an adequate information system which will facilitate search and rescue and the efficient handling of the aftermath of any accident that might occur.”5

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