In recent years the seizure of vessels and detention of mariners under inhuman conditions for ransom payment claims on behalf of ship-owners for their release has increased dramatically. The Cyprus Government has followed other jurisdictions in preparing legislation to combat piracy on the high seas, mainly with the provision of specially trained and certified armed guards/escorts on the merchant vessel flying the flag of Cyprus.
The Department of Merchant Shipping of Cyprus in collaboration with other relevant authorities of Cyprus has prepared a Bill which has been approved by the Council of Ministers of Cyprus, on the 20th of April 2012. The House of Representatives enacted it into Law as of 15th of June 2012. Τhis new Law is “pioneering and important” and will, with no doubt, turn Cyprus into “a pioneer on a global scale” on the matter.
Use of the services of a private ship security company
The ship’s operator/ registered owner/bareboat charterer may entrust to a certified private ship security company the implementation of additional security measures referred to in the provisions of the new Anti-Piracy Law, which are considered necessary for the protection of the ship.
A private ship security company is not allowed to implement on board the ship any security measures and/or to use firearms and/or special security equipment before the issue of a certificate.
Procedure of the issue of a certificate allowing the use of a private ship security company
The application for the issue of the certificate allowing the use of the services of a private ship security company is submitted to the Competent Authority by the ship’s operator or by its representative in the Republic, in an official language of the Republic, or in a language understood by the Competent Authority.
The Competent Authority, if satisfied by the application and the information and data submitted thereto, may, and has the power, to issue to the ship’s operator a certificate attesting that, for the protection of the security of the ship, the private ship security company, with which the ship’s operator has or intends to conclude a written private agreement and which holds a certificate, is allowed to:
i) implement on board additional security measures referred to in the provisions of the Law, including the use of force.
ii) load on, transport by and unload from, the ship, firearms and/or special security equipment and
iii) Use firearms and/or special security equipment.
Conclusion of a written private agreement with a private ship security company
The ship's operator has the obligation to ensure, when signing a written private agreement:
i) that the private ship security company holds a certificate issued to it pursuant to the provisions of section 22(1) of the Law;
ii) that the private ship security company has insurance for compensation;
iii) that the private ship security guards/firearms are referred to on the certificate issued to the private ship security company pursuant to the provisions of section 22(1);
iv) that the above private ship security guards are able to communicate, converse and discuss relevant issues with the master of the ship and with the ship's personnel;
v) that the agreement does not contain any provisions that are contrary to or inconsistent with the provisions or any other law of the Republic or regulatory or administrative acts which have been issued or may be issued pursuant to their provisions.
Prerequisites for the approval of private ship security companies
Any legal person who wishes to provide services for the protection of the security of ships must submit to the Competent Authority an application for issue of a certificate attesting that it is allowed to implement security measures on ships using the private ship security guards it employs/contracts.
The Competent Authority has the power to issue the certificate referred to in the Law to a legal person a) registered as a company in accordance with the Law of the Republic and its registered office in Cyprus, b) in accordance with the laws of any EU member state and its reg. office, central administration or principal place of business in an EU member state, if it establishes and undertakes to maintain, for the duration of the validity of the certificate, an authorized representative in the Republic, and c) in accordance with the Laws of any other State, subject to the Minister’s permission, if it establishes and undertakes to maintain, for the duration of the validity of the certificate, an authorized representative in the Republic.
Application and approval process for private ship security companies
The application for the issue of the certificate is submitted by the legal person or by its authorized representative in the official language of the Republic, or in a language understood by the Competent Authority and shall contain the information and be accompanied by the documentation referred to in the Sixth Schedule of the Law. The application is then evaluated and amended where necessary and when the evaluation procedure is concluded, the applicant (Private Ship Security Company) is issued a certificate, valid for two (2) years.
The Competent Authority may, and has the power, to conduct, in relation to examination of an application, any inspections or investigations it considers to be necessary.
The Competent Authority may, and has the power:
(i) to extend the period of the validity of a certificate; or
(ii) to suspend or cancel the validity of a certificate and to specify the scope or the period of the suspension or cancellation; or
(iii) to replace a certificate with a new one; or
(iv) to amend the particulars referred to on a certificate; or
(v) to amend the terms or conditions or the information referred to on a certificate;
For the purposes of the provisions of section 20(2)(b) and 20(2)(c), the authorized representative may be 1) a citizen of the Republic or a citizen of another Member State who is resident in the Republic, within the meaning of the provisions of the Income Tax Laws of 2002 to Law (No. 2) of 2011 or 2) a partnership established and registered in accordance with the provisions of the Partnerships and Business Names Law, Cap.116 and Laws of 1977 to 2011 having its place of business in the Republic and which employs permanent personnel in the Republic; or 3) a corporation, which is incorporated and registered in accordance with the provisions of the Law, having its place of business in the Republic and which employs permanent personnel in the Republic.
N. PIRILIDES & ASSOCIATES LLC, together with its affiliates, can provide full set-up, licensing, legal, accounting, tax and audit and counselling services to private ship security companies providing security services to Cyprus flag ships. Our firm may submit the application and obtain the relevant certificate. Clients interested in such services may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.