On 31 October Cabinet approved the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2023 which, amongst other things, provides a modernised maritime legislative framework. Its publication in the Cayman Islands Legislation Gazette on 3 November launched a 28-day public consultation period that will end on 30 November 2023.
The Bill intends to repeal and replace the existing Merchant Shipping Act (2021 Revision) in order to provide updated provisions which brings the country’s maritime legislative framework in line with current international standards and requirements.
Minister for Financial Services and Commerce, the Hon. André Ebanks, noted that the Merchant Shipping Act was originally enacted as Law 24 of 1997. The Act was based extensively on the United Kingdom Merchant Shipping Act, 1995. Updates and revisions since then have been largely minor and administrative in nature. However, since the initial enactment, there have been significant developments in the international shipping industry, including advances in technology, increased environmental concerns and changes in trade patterns.
“The Bill presents an exciting opportunity to enhance the Cayman Islands’ attractiveness to the international shipping industry and wider financial services sector. It is intended to benefit all stakeholders in the maritime sector and reinforce our reputation as a globally respected financial services and innovation centre of excellence,” Minister Ebanks said.
Over the last two years, there has been extensive consultation with industry stakeholders, members of the public, government partners with a maritime remit and international entities. Feedback from these discussions was instrumental in shaping the Bill.
The Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands (MACI), whose activities involve the national maritime administration for the Cayman Islands and operation of the highly-regarded 120-year-old Cayman Islands Shipping Registry, spearheaded the work to update the legislation, with support from the Portfolio of Legal Affairs Legislative Drafting Unit, the Ministry of Financial Services and Commerce, as well as a number of other ministries and departments.
MACI CEO Joel Walton commented: “This Bill represents a significant enhancement in maritime regulation in the Cayman Islands and allows our country to stay current with any updates to international best practice. It also provides welcome clarification and simplification on administrative processes already undertaken by the Authority.”
Minister Ebanks is expect to present the Bill at the next available meeting of Parliament following the observance of the aforementioned consultation period.