Merchant Shipping Bill 2023 to modernise Cayman’s Maritime Sector

On 31 October, Cabinet approved the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2023 which, among 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) to update provisions which will bring the country’s maritime legislative framework in line with current international standards and requirements. 

Minister for Financial Services and Commerce, André Ebanks said the Merchant Shipping Act was originally enacted as Law 24 of 1997.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 had 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 ministry said.

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 several other ministries and departments.

MACI CEO Joel Walton said “the 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 expected to present the Bill, after the consultation period, at the next available meeting of Parliament.

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