Law Updates

Oman Issues New Maritime Law

The promulgation of the new Omani Maritime Law last month was definitely one of the most significant legal developments in the Omani legal system of this year. This law repeals the Maritime Law of 1981 and the Maritime Navigation Law of 1981. The new Maritime Law is massive and is composed of 9 parts and a total of 387 articles. This blog post will provide an overview of the content of each of the 9 parts of the new law.

Part 1 of the Maritime Law introduces definitions and general provisions related to the application of the law, determines the scope of application and exemptions, states the relationship between the local law and international maritime treaties, and determines the responsibilities of the Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology (“MTCIT“) with regard to maritime transport.

Part 2 is divided into seven chapters that cover various aspects related to the ship. Chapter 1 outlines the circumstances under which a ship can acquire or lose Omani nationality and requires Omani ships to hoist the flag of Oman. Chapter 2 specifies the documents that must be kept on the ship. Chapter 3 grants authority to the MTCIT to inspect ships and sets out procedures for this. Chapter 4 governs ship ownership, including joint ownership and liability. Chapter 5 regulates shipbuilding, with the requirement of an expert international body to supervise construction. Chapters 6 and 7 govern registration and removal of registration.

Part 3 deals with the property rights in ships and the types of legal attachments that can be imposed on ships. The part determines two main types of property rights: maritime liens and mortgages. Additionally, there are two types of legal attachments: precautionary attachment and enforcement attachment.

Part 4 identifies the persons involved in maritime transport and outlines their respective duties and responsibilities. These individuals are the shipowner, its operator, its master, and its seafarers. The part is divided into four chapters, with the first chapter focusing on the shipowner and operator. The subsequent two chapters focus on the roles of the master and seafarers, respectively. Chapter 4 focuses on the maritime employment contract, which is applicable to both the master and seafarers, in a similar manner to the Labour Law but with specific details relevant to the nature of maritime transport.

Part 5 is dedicated to agents and brokers: The ship agent, the cargo agent, and the freight forwarders. This part is divided into four chapters. The first chapter contains the general provisions that apply to these persons, with article 136 being the most critical provision. This article specifies that when conducting transactions with these persons, then the law of the port where the transactions are made applies unless the parties agree otherwise. The rest of the chapters deal with the roles and responsibilities of each of the identified persons separately.

Part 6 is dedicated to the utilisation of the ship and is probably the most fundamental part. It is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 governs ship chartering and is further divided into sections. The first section contains the general provisions on ship chartering and the subsequent sections outline the provisions governing each type of charter independently. The types of ship charter are bareboat charter, voyage charter, and time charter. Chapter 2 regulates the contract of carriage by sea. As practitioners in the industry would know, there are two kinds of contracts of carriage by sea, one for goods and one for persons. Two independent sections are dedicated to setting out the rules for each type of contract. Additionally, the new law introduces a new type of carriage regulated by section 3 of this chapter, which is maritime tourist transport. Finally, chapter 4 deals with towage, pilotage, and navigational aids.

Part 7 deals with marine accidents and aims to provide a comprehensive framework for investigating and managing such incidents. It builds upon and updates the provisions of the repealed 1981 laws. Conveniently, this part is structured in a logical and practical way reflecting the reality of measures taken against marine accidents. Chapter 1 defines marine collisions and outlines their consequences. Chapter 2 covers the process of maritime rescue operations. Chapter 3 focuses on the investigation of marine accidents and outlines the procedures to be followed. Chapter 4 addresses the provisions for general average losses. Finally, chapter 5 governs shipwrecks and sets out the obligations of all stakeholders in relation to these incidents.

Part 8 pertains to marine insurance, this is a critical aspect of maritime transport that mitigates risks by ensuring that businesses operate with appropriate coverage. The part is divided into two chapters for ease of reference. Chapter 1 provides the requirements of insurance in general and comprises five sections. Section 1 outlines the necessary requirements of the insurance contract. Section 2 sets out the obligations of the insurer. Section 3 sets out the obligations of the insured. Section 4 covers the process for the settlement of damages. Finally, Section 5 closes out this part by defining the prescription period for lawsuits arising from the insurance contract. Chapter 2 focuses on specific provisions for different types of marine insurance, dedicating a section to each type, which are ship insurance, cargo insurance, and liability insurance.

Finally, Part 9 contains the punishments for violation of the law and governs the authority of the minister of MTCIT to determine administrative penalties. This part is also a step forward in modernising the law, as the previous laws did not have a section dedicated to punishments. The introduction of this part makes it easy to understand the consequences of violating the provisions of the law.

You can read the law in full in English on the link below: