Shipping regulations: the Maritime and Coastguard Agency seeks views

29th September 2020

Safety rules and standards are to be implemented on passenger ships and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are seeking views on these shipping regulations. 

The agency are presently seeking views by 20 October 2020 on the proposals outlined within the consultation document and supporting annexures.


The European Commission has recently reviewed Directive 2009/45/EC on safety rules and standards for passenger ships in order to ensure the law delivers its intended benefits for society, by amending Directive 2017/2108. The main result: a removal of ships below 24m length from the Directive’s scope.

This Directive applies only to seagoing domestic passenger ships, which are ships that:

  • Carry more than 12 passengers;
  • Go to sea; but
  • Only undertake non-international voyages, back to the same port, or a different port, within the same EU member state.

Passenger ships that undertake international voyages are unaffected so it’s likely that any changes will be limited in impact.


Despite the fact the UK has left the EU and is currently in a transitional period until 31 December 2020, the UK Government is supportive of these measures for our own domestic passenger fleet. It has, however, two options:

  1. Do nothing (however the removal of ships below 24m length from the Directive’s scope, and other important exclusions including sailing vessels, tenders and offshore supply vessels won’t be applied by doing nothing). This brings the risk of UK shipping operating on less favourable terms than our EU neighbours;
  2. Transpose Directive 2017/2108 (or a version of it) into our domestic law, allowing smaller ships to be subject to bespoke national safety requirements for their construction, equipment and operation, which will be more appropriate and proportionate for the domestic operating environments around the UK, and could potentially save UK operator costs.

Whilst savings for ships under 24m are hard to quantify as variable factors influence their construction, and such savings will arise at the design stage and therefore be integrated into the ship’s overall cost, complying with the more relaxed SSPS Code can save some £6600 per renewal, whilst still maintaining the highest safety standards expected of UK shipping. Such measures may also help stimulate the construction of further new builds in tough trading conditions, and provide a welcome boost to operators where many are fighting for survival.

The Government welcomes opinions however specifically on the following:

  • Whether you are in agreement that the impact of the proposals will be negligible;
  • What the key areas are where costs and benefits for your business may arise;
  • How long it will take to familiarise your business with the proposed amendments and who will be required to familiarise themselves with such proposed changes in your organisation;
  • Whether you think any businesses will be disproportionately affected;
  • Whether you think there will be any unintended consequences;
  • What impact you think the proposed changes will have upon safety standards.

Consultation responses and queries should be emailed to [email protected]. The draft shipping regulations will subsequently be revised to consider appropriate responses, with the aim that the new regulations will come into force on 3 December 2020.

If you have any questions regarding this or other marine law issues, please contact Louise Fuller or Vikki Sidaway.

Enjoy That? You Might Like These:


29 November -
In the last article of our public inquiry series, we look at freedom of information requests and defamation claims made in the context of a public inquiry. The extent of... Read More


21 November -
Everton became the first Premier League club to be sanctioned – by way of 10 point deduction – under the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules. This article explores why... Read More


30 October -
Continuing our series of articles focusing on public inquiries, we look at the grounds and process for challenging the final decision made at an inquiry. Whilst a public inquiry can... Read More