Malta Symposium on the Convention on the International Effects of Judicial Sales of Ships
The CMI together with the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade and UNCITRAL organised the Malta Symposium on the Convention on the International Effects of Judicial Sales of Ships which was well attended with over 150 delegates from over 50 countries.
The convention which originated from the CMI and adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2022, is designed and drafted to offer a streamlined process to guarantee that the free title acquired in a judicial is given its full effect.
In 2018 a colloquium was hosted in Malta with the aim of gathering and obtaining the views of the industry as to whether there was truly a need for a Convention. Five years later Malta was again the venue for a Symposium this time aimed at encouraging as many states as possible to ratify this Convention after its signing ceremony which is set to take place by the end of this year.
Ann Fenech, President of the CMI opened the symposium and gave an overview of the Convention. All three Maltese Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Transport and Justice, presented papers underlining the relevance of the Convention to Maritime Trade.
Richard Sonnenschein, Director of Justice Policies, DG for Justice and Consumers at the European Commission and Angèle Sears-Debono the Legal and Policy Officer within the Civil Justice Unit, DG for Justice and Consumers of the EU Commission also spoke encouragingly on the ratification of the Convention by EU Member States.
Mr Justice Ian Spiteri Bailey, President of the Commercial Court, expressed his satisfaction on the Convention and emphasised how this would simplify processes.
José Angelo Estrella-Faria, the Principal Legal Officer of UNCITRAL along with Professor Beate Czerwenka, Chair of UNCITRAL Working Group VI on Judicial Sales, addressed the symposium focusing on the work effort on the draft convention at UNCITRAL.
The symposium consisted of a panel discussion with delegates who in some form or manner, help contribute directly to the Convention.
Petar Kragic, Maritime Legal Consultant and Croatian Delegate at UNCITRAL’s Working Group VI on Judicial Sales, who focused on the scope of the application and the notification process.
Eduardo Albors, Partner at Albors, Galiano, Portales and consultant to the Spanish delegation at UNCITRAL’s Working Group VI, who dealt with the Certificate of the Judicial Sale and delved into the provision by explaining the content of the certificate, the forms in which it may be presented and finally the fact that the certificate shall have effect in every other State Party.
Peter Laurijssen, Legal Director Compagnie Maritime Belge, member of the BIMCO Documentary Committee, delegate for BIMCO and ICS at UNCITRAL’s Working Group VI, highlighted the importance of Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention which go to the core and provide the much needed legal certainty on how any vessel sold by a judicial sale carrying a certificate, can freely trade and cannot be arrested for a claim arising prior to the judicial sale. This all subject to the exception of Public Policy which Ann Fenech, President of the CMI, explained in detail.
Frederick Kenney, Director, Legal and External Affairs, IMO, closed off the panel discussion by ascertaining that the IMO will also play a part in this Convention by acting as a repository and this through making the notice of judicial sale available to the public through the introduction of a new GISIS module on the IMO’s website.
The last panel at Wednesday’s most successful symposium hosted by the Malta Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with CMI and UNICTRAL was a panel composed of moderator and maritime lawyer Suzanne Shaw, Partner at Dingli and Dingli and three speakers who could attest to the need of this convention – a panel discussion with Industry.
Jason Korbetis, managing Director of Bluefin Marine Ltd, owner of the vessel Bright Star which was arrested by a previous creditor, six months after a judicial sale which had transferred the vessel to Bluefin Marine Ltd free and unencumbered. He explained the frustration, substantial losses and severe interruption this caused. He further highlighted how had there been the convention, all that would have been required for a speedy resolution of the dispute was the provision of the Certificate of Judicial Sale, rather than court proceedings lasting 4 years.
Tilman Stein, formerly Head Group Legal of Deutsche Bank AG, Ship Finance Department explained how important it was for ship financiers to ensure that any ships they would be financing would indeed be free in the hands of the new purchasers enabling the registration of fresh mortgages. He stated that he could see a situation where banks would only agree to the registration of ships with registries of states parties to the convention.
Ivan Sammut, Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen described how the provision of the certificate of judicial sale as provided in article 6 of the Convention would from a very practical perspective enable Registrars to act more promptly and efficiently and give everyone peace of mind.
This panel was much appreciated by the delegates attending the symposium because it proved that this Convention is geared to solving real life problems and challenges which arise and which need to be eliminated in the interest of clarity and certainty in this important area of international maritime trade.