Greece Enacts New Code of Private Maritime Law

Credits: Viktor Posnov/Alamy Stock Photo

West of England P&I Club’s Piraeus legal correspondents, Deucalion Rediadis LP, have advised that there has been a comprehensive revision of the Greek Code of Private Maritime Law, which will come into effect from 1 May 2023. There are some welcome additions which bring the legal framework up to date.

New code of private maritime law

A summary of the main provisions is as follows:

  • The distinction between ships and other floating craft is being replaced with that between ships and ‘static’ craft, depending on whether the vessel is usually motile or stationary, without regard to size.
  • Certain provisions on ship mortgages previously reserved for vessels over 1,500 g.r.t. have been extended to other classes of Greek-flag ships and craft.
  • Finance leases for ships have been permitted; however, a bareboat charterer may not register a Greek-flag ship with a foreign registry. The
  • The buyer of a ship in a transaction with a close connection to Greece will no longer be liable for third-party claims against the selling shipowner, unless these are secured by maritime lien.
  • Liability for wrongful arrest has been extended to cover also detention of a ship by way of a provisional order issued in anticipation of a judgment for her conservative seizure, where such order has been applied for in bad faith and has subsequently been discontinued by the said judgment.
  • Express powers to auction off liened cargoes are being provided, with claims for freight and other amounts due under the charter taking priority and, also, benefiting from a statutory lien over the ship’s bunkers. A right to refuse to enter port, or to proceed with loading or discharging cargo, is also provided for expressly.
  • Owners may, under certain conditions, claim against sub-charterers directly for freight due under the head charter, up to the amount due by the sub-charterer to the charterer.
    Provision is made for bills of lading, other cargo documents and charterparties to be issued electronically.
  • The Hague-Visby Rules will apply across the board, i.e. to international carriage in liner trades irrespective of whether a bill of lading or ‘equivalent’ document has been issued; to other international carriage where a bill of lading or ‘equivalent’ document has been issued; and to domestic carriage under any circumstances, including between any geographical positions within Greek territorial waters (thus covering shipments following STS transfer). Unless otherwise agreed, the Rules are to govern also cargo liabilities under charterparty contracts.
  • Claims for delay are limited to three times the freight payable. Where the delay has caused loss or damage to cargo, the limits of the Hague-Visby Rules will apply.

The new Code, bearing Act No. 5020/2023, was published in the Government Gazette of the Hellenic Republic on 15 February 2023 with effect from 1 May 2023, except for certain provisions relating to the registration of ships and other craft, which will come into force on 1 November 2023.

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Source: West P&I


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