Detention and arrest of vessels and cargoes at Russian Ports (1.12.99)


Since 1 May 1999 the new Merchant Shipping Code has been adopted and come into effect in the Russian Federation. In this connection we think that our comments on some provisions of this Code relating to detention and arrest of vessels would be important and helpful for P&I Clubs and the Members.

1.      Harbour Masters are endued now with the right to refuse to give a ship permission  to leave the port,  if:

 a) the ship is unseaworthy, improperly loaded, supplied or manned, or otherwise defective, creating danger to safety of navigation or to the health of the people on board, or danger of causing damage to the sea environment;

b) the ship does not satisfy the requirements relating to ship’s papers;

c) there is an order of the Sanitary, Quarantine, Emigration, Customs, Coast Guard or other state authorities for detention;

d) the established port dues and charges have not been settled. (Article 80).

2.      A ship and cargo may be detained at a port by the Port authorities in the person of the Marine Administrations Headmen, and authorized by them Harbour Masters for 72 hours excluding official days-off, at the request of any person who has a demand arising out of salvage services, collision of vessels, damages to port structures, water basins, waterways, navigational devices or other damnification. (Article 81).

3.      On expiring the period of detention the Merchant Shipping Code stipulates the possibility of arresting the ship, which is put in force by the judgment of the Court, Arbitration Court or authorized by law Court of Referees. In this case the arrest may be effected only in security for a marine claim. The law also stipulates the possibility of effecting security arrest of a vessel with the aim to get the security for a prospective claim. The kind of security required is determined under agreement of parties or by a court ruling, if the parties had not achieved the corresponding agreement. On providing the security the vessel shall be immediately released. (Articles 388, 391).

Taking into account the aforesaid, we would like you to pay serious consideration to the fact that adoption of the new Code has actually renewed the institution, which has not been applied lately, when ships may be detained at the request of a third party as stipulated by Article 81 of the Merchant Shipping Code. In this connection we are expecting that the number of cases relating to detention and arrest of vessels will tend to increase and as a result shipowners will be exposed to difficulties.

Preventive measures are to be intensified to avoid circumstances pointed out in Article 81 of the Code. This will enable to escape eventual losses connected with such detention and arrest of ships.

As the number of detentions of ships connected with damage to cargoes may considerably increase (such detentions have not been effected by Harbour Masters lately), we assume that shipowners shall ensure better care of and safety of cargoes while in their custody. Now a vessel will be immediately detained at the request of cargo receivers/charterers who can provide documents confirming just the fact of the damage to, contamination or shortage of cargo, etc.


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