Jurisdictions of Black Sea countries: crisis aggravates

All the Black Sea countries, namely Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and the new Black Sea state – Moldova, have their own special rules. Black Sea Region is unique in whole, thus it is crucial for determining the rules of conduct applied to members of maritime industry. Black Sea is recognized as the worst place in the world upon vessel condition and terms of vessel operations. Representatives of the International Transport Workers’ Federtation (ITF) were the first who announced it in public by means of the report “Black Sea of Shame”. One of the region’s peculiarities is a short-haul traffic, i.e. special geographical location of sea ports closely to each other provides transportation in Black Sea Region at small distances and for short periods.


Black Sea status both from geographical and legal points of view can be described in the general concept of enclosed and semi-enclosed seas provided by the UNCLOS. Black Sea Straits (the Bosporus, the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara) are the only waterway connecting Black Sea with the Global Ocean. The International Convention approved in 1936 in Montreux governs the status of Black Sea Straits. As shown by political and military conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine caused by the Russian Federation, such Convention does not comply with the principles of modern international law because it is not treated as effective instrument providing and securing international safety in Black Sea. Nevertheless all the crises are overcome and life goes on. Over 45 thousand vessels pass the Black Sea Straits every year.
Therefore the issues concerning unification of maritime law in Black Sea countries are still vital. Despite low chances of complete unification, there is a certain progress. Let us study the rules of ship arrest in Black Sea countries in order to show the situation in details.
Russia, Romania and Ukraine are the members of the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to the Arrest of Sea-going Ships (Brussels, 10.05.1952), Bulgaria is the member of the International Convention on the Arrest of Ships (Geneva, 12.03.1999). Other countries are not members of any conventions on ship arrest.
Meantime in all the jurisdictions of Black Sea countries it is impossible to file a claim in rem being highly developed in jurisdiction of common law. But the claim in rem on vessel arrest often has no doubts.
Ship may be arrested in the Bulgarian port both as maritime claim security and as security of a claim filed pursuant to the Civil Procedural Code of Bulgaria. Merchant Shipping Code of Bulgaria does not provide the right to arrest associated vessels in order to secure a maritime claim, but according to the aforesaid Convention, to which Bulgaria is a party, such arrest is provided under the following conditions: at the beginning of the procedure related to the arrest of a ship or ships, they belong to the person liable for the maritime claim and which at the moment of claim arising was the owner of the ship in respect of which the maritime claim arose, or charterer, bareboat charterer, time charterer or voyage charterer of that ship.
In Ukraine the ship arrest practice is getting closer to international standards but still remains controversial. Our experience shows that from the moment of receiving an application the court shall have not less than 5 days for making a decision.
Like in Ukraine, in Russia the arrest of associated vessels is almost impossible. Term required for making decision by the court may exceed two weeks.
In Romania such period may take three weeks, thus it is also impossible to arrest an associated vessel.
In Georgia there is a court practice of ship arrest both as maritime claim and as claim security. The court usually satisfies the shipowner’s claim upon counter-security and if the claimant fails to submit counter-security within 7 days the vessel shall be released. The counter-security usually makes up 10-20% from the claim amount (like in Romania) but consideration of application usually does not exceed 10 days.
In Turkey consideration of application on ship arrest usually takes much time, up to one month. Neither arrest of associated vessels nor sister-ship arrest is practiced. Counter-security usually makes up SDR 10,000 but such amount may be increased by the court at the claimant’s request.
Moldova has recently become a maritime nation, having received access to the sea through the port of Giurgiule?ti. Ship arrest practice in Moldova is in its infancy. Meantime Articles 45 – 51 of the Merchant Shipping Code of Moldova provide quite progressive standards of ship arrest.

Of course, both political crisis and war conflict had an impact on private law including on relationship in respect of ship arrest. Such relationship faces a large impact of politics (i.e. is getting politicized), especially in the countries which suffered invasion

Published on Maritime Risk International

Author: Arthur Nitsevych

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