Malta's Application of Ship Safety Rules Under the Spotlight

Daniela Bartolo | 08 Feb 2012

Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates CCMalta default banner

Adopted on 1 November 1974 by the International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) entered into force on 25 May 1980. Since then it has been amended by means of two protocols and various resolutions.

The Convention as a whole applies only to ships engaged on international voyages and which are entitled to fly the flag of states which are party to the Convention. In laying out different safety requirements, the Convention makes a distinction between different classes of ships.

Generally speaking the convention does not apply to:

  1. Ships of war and troopships.
  2. Cargo ships of less than 500 gross tonnage.
  3. Ships not propelled by mechanical means.
  4. Wooden ships of primitive build.
  5. Pleasure yachts not engaged in trade.
  6. Fishing vessels
  7. Ships solely navigating the Great Lakes of North America and the River St Lawrence as far east as a straight line drawn from Cap des Rosier to West Point, Anticosti Island and, on the north side of Anticosti Island, the 63rd meridian

Each ship must undergo inspection carried out by officials of the Flag State or by surveyors nominated by the said State to carry out such inspections. Such inspections may be carried out when specified in the Convention or when requested by the Flag State.

The SOLAS Convention sets out the minimum number of inspections and the time within which such inspections must be carried out. A successful completion of a survey will lead to the issue of the relevant Safety Certificate, generally issued in English or French.

The SOLAS Convention addresses also the measures that must be taken by the Flag state in the case of casualties on board as well as construction requirements, requirements on life-saving appliances, radio-communications and safety of navigation.

Under SOLAS, responsibility for ensuring implementation rests with the Governments party to the Convention which are bound by the Convention itself to promulgate all laws, decrees, orders and regulations and to take any other steps which may be necessary to give the Convention full and complete effect. Governments are obliged to ensure that a ship is safe for the service for which it is intended.

Despite the fact that in 2006, SOLAS provisions were amended to specifically address large ships, in the aftermath of the sinking of the Costa Concordia, the IMO committed itself to re-examine the regulations on the safety of large passenger ships.


Request More Information

Please send me legal and other updates

Key Contacts

Dr Charlene Mifsud

Partner, Corporate & Commercial

+356 2205 6298

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner, Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056122

Mr Steve Muscat Azzopardi

Head of Tax and Corporate Services

+356 2205 6328

Related Industry Groups
Related Practices
Related Opportunities