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The Chamber has worked with government and enforcement authorities to balance anti-bribery legislation compliance with the reality of demands for facilitation payments in many ports across the world. Practices regulating offshore safety, insurance for maritime claims and wreck removal have also been subject to scrutiny.

Bribery Act 2010 The Bribery Act took effect in July and is central to the government’s policy of eradicating corruption. It has wide application founded on a broad interpretation of activities conducted in or through the UK, and extends to a company’s overseas operations. Bribery, with the sole aim of obtaining a business or commercial advantage through unfair means, can never be condoned. Unfortunately, officials and service providers in many parts of the world often expect facilitation payments – small gifts in cash or kind – for their cooperation in undertaking work properly expected of them. While this is different from bribery, the legislation does not create a distinction or provide a de minimis threshold. Thus, any facilitation payment is likely to fall foul of the act. Shipping companies do not willingly concede

such payments, as they represent an additional cost for the service that companies are supposed to be receiving. Nevertheless, the stark reality is that refusal to meet demands for facilitation payments can quickly lead to intimidation or reprisals. A vessel might be subjected to undue delay, crew harassment, the discovery of irregularities in paperwork or inexplicable faults requiring expensive rectification before sailing. The government has made it clear that the industry will be expected to resist demands.




However, shipowners alone cannot be the tool of legislative policy and require government support to protect operational and trading interests. There must be certainty that local diplomatic assistance will be available where a ship is targeted because demands for payments are denied. Such events are the visible symptoms of an often much deeper malaise where action is needed at international level to address the underlying causes of corruption. Discussions continue with the government and enforcement authorities about balancing application of the law with commercial realities.

Offshore safety Practices regulating exploration and production in the offshore sector have been under scrutiny by the European Commission. Proposals for an EU Regulation on safety of offshore oil and gas prospection, exploration and production activities were put forward in October. While the technical issues are examined elsewhere, provisions are included to cover liability where it is important that legislators do not lose sight of the differences between carriage of oil by sea and activities surrounding exploration and production. Long- standing liability and compensation instruments developed through IMO already provide

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