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THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE MARITIME LABOUR CONVENTION’S FINANCIAL SECURITY CERTIFICATES IN RESOLVING CLAIMS FOR UNPAID SEAFARERS’ WAGES

Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly

The effectiveness of the Maritime Labour Convention’s financial security certificates in resolving claims for unpaid seafarers’ wages Eugene Cheng Jiankai * The 2014 amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention entered into force on 18 January 2017. The primary drive of the amendments was to introduce a financial security certificate which would guarantee payment of seafarers’ wages and repatriation costs in the event of abandonment by shipowners. This article seeks to provide a critical analysis of the effectiveness of financial security certificates in resolving claims for unpaid seafarers’ wages. I. INTRODUCTION Since antiquity, seafaring has been an arduous occupation. A seafarer working on a ship is constantly exposed to the perils of the sea and is plucked from all creature comforts offered by the land. Seafarers have also been known to be exploited by their employers, due to the disparity of bargaining power between them. 1 As such, the courts have always had sympathy towards a seafarer’s cause and are of the view that they are particularly deserving of protection. 2 The policy of protecting seafarers has become so ingrained that, since the early nineteenth century, the courts have recognised that a wage claim for services to a ship attracts a maritime lien. 3 This doctrine is now firmly entrenched in most common law jurisdictions. 4 160. Adjunct Research Fellow, Centre for Maritime Law (CML), Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore; Advocate and Solicitor, Supreme Court of Singapore. The author would like to thank his colleagues at CML for their comments and review of this paper, and in particular, Associate Professor Paul Myburgh who has provided valuable guidance, assistance and direction, without which this paper could not have been completed. The author would also like to thank his friend and colleague, Tan Jia Qi, for her assistance and explanation of the processes behind the issuance of FSCs in P&I Clubs. 1. The ANL Progress (formerly Starship) [2003] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 423 (NZ HC in Adm), 426. 2. The Ever Success [1999] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 824 , 835. See also The Juliana (1822) 2 Dods 504; 165 ER 1560; The Minerva (1825) 1 Hagg Adm 347; 166 ER 123. 3. Sir William Scott in The Madonna D’Idra (1811) 1 Dods 37, 40; 165 ER 1224, 1225 went so far as to describe seafarers’ wage liens as ‘sacred liens’. See generally DC Jackson, Enforcement of Maritime Claims , 4th edn (LLP, 2005), [18.70ff]; Nigel Meeson and John A Kimbell, Admiralty Jurisdiction and Practice , 5th edn (Informa Law from Routledge, 2018), [1.43ff]; Toh Kian Sing SC, Admiralty Law and Practice , 3rd edn (LexisNexis, 2017), 294. 4. See The Halcyon Skies [1976] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 461 . See also The Daien Maru No 18 [1984] SGHC 43; [1983–1984] SLR(R) 787, [17–19]. MLO FINANCIAL SECURITY CERTIFICATES 125

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