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SPOTCHECKLEGAL


Keeping on the right side of regulations


Since getting the all-clear from Brussels to carry on as normal, the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) has been trying to reinvent itself in order to have a greater say in drawing up rules emanating from shipping’s regulatory bodies – and especially from the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Ian Cochran investigates.


ome classification societies have expanded to form virtual standalone consultancies, which has resulted in many shipping people accusing them of moving away from their core business. However, at a presentation in London recently, the new IACS chairman – Roberto Cazzulo from the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) – stressed that the association is keen to reiterate its guiding principles of vessel safety, operational quality, integrity and environmental protection. Cazzulo said: “IACS is the key technical body in global shipping. It is important that we reinforce our commitment to our fundamental aims and ensure that our work programme delivers that.”


S He outlined the association’s key strategic


objectives:  Leadership: to partner the IMO and industry to develop a safety level regulatory framework for achieving a better balance between safety, environmental protection and sustainability.


 Knowledge: to finalise IACS’ H-CSR for new bulk carriers and oil tankers – this could eventually be introduced for


other vessel types – and to promote energy efficiency and green technologies.


 Quality: to further enhance and reinforce the IACS quality system certification scheme providing interested parties with open information on certification bodies’ and auditors’ performance.


 Transparency: to strive for an


international statutory legal framework to improve accident and incident reporting and investigation with a view to facilitating data exchange and learning lessons more quickly.


Cazzulo said that the IMO is often politically led, particularly when dealing with environmental issues, rather than taking a pragmatic look to see whether the various schemes put forward are economically or indeed operationally viable. In the past, the IMO has been accused of moving too slowly on vital issues such as emissions control. This has led to the USA and the EU threatening to put their own rules in place, effectively overruling the IMO. In some cases, this has already happened. For example, in the case of ballast water treatment, the USA has brought in its own rules, which are deemed to be stricter than those proposed in the soon-to-be-ratified IMO Ballast Water Convention. Fines of millions of dollars can be levied against owners and individual seafarers caught polluting US waters and indeed these are often enforced.


Human error


Even if a classification society has passed (type approved) a particular piece of equipment for operation, the so-called human element can kick-in resulting in short cuts, which in turn can lead to prosecutions and heavy fines. In May 2013, Columbia


Shipmanagement GmbH and Columbia Shipmanagement Ltd, based in Germany and Cyprus respectively, agreed to pay a USD10.4 million penalty and be placed on probation for four years after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice charges and violations of the US Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. The companies admitted that during visits to ports in the states of New Jersey, Delaware and California, four of their


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July/August 2013


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