On March 30th, 2023, Sultani Decree No. 19/2023 was issued promulgating Oman’s new Maritime Law (“Decree”). The Decree repeals the old Maritime Law enacted by Sultani Decree No. 35/1981 and the Law Regulating Maritime Navigation in Territorial Waters promulgated by Sultani Decree No. 98/1981, as well as any other related laws and regulations that conflict with its provisions. The main aim of the new Maritime Law is to regulate Oman’s maritime industry, prioritize navigation, seafarer and maritime environment safety, and promote its growth.
The newly enacted Decree presents a comprehensive framework for investigating maritime accidents and debris management, along with provisions for penalties and fines in case of violations. It also regulates maritime tourism, which was not covered by the previous law. Additionally, the Decree includes updates to various legislative aspects such as implementing international agreements, transport of goods and persons, and maritime labour contracts. Other updates cover ship registration, maritime liens and enforcement, ship agents, cargo agents, freight forwarders and brokers.
The new law, containing 387 articles in nine parts, covers various aspects of the maritime sector and can be seen highlighted below:
- Part one outlines definitions and general provisions for implementing the law, including Oman’s ratified international maritime treaties, and establishes the MTCIT responsibility in relation to the maritime sector.
- Part two concerns the ship and encompasses various aspects, such as the conditions for acquiring or losing Omani nationality, the obligation for Omani vessels to display the flag of Oman, and regulations pertaining to supervision, inspection, ownership, management, sale, approvals, shipbuilding, licenses, registration, and ship’s rights. This section also lays out the protocols that the MTICIT must adhere to when inspecting a ship and governs the procedures for registering and deregistering an Omani ship.
- Part three focuses on property rights a ship might have, including maritime liens and mortgages. It also highlight the types of legal attachment that can be imposed on ships.
- Part four defines the duties and responsibilities of those involved in maritime transport, including employment contracts for the master and seafarers and its term and conditions and grounds for termination.
- Part five outlines the roles and responsibilities of ship agents and brokers.
- Part six governs ship chartering and introduces new types of carriage, including maritime tourist transport.
- Part seven provides framework for investigating and managing marine accidents and debris and the procedures to be followed.
- Part eight regulates marine insurance, claims settlement, and timelines associated with claims arising from the insurance contract.
- Part nine prescribes penalties and fines imposed for violating the law, including the authority of the Minister of MTCIT to determine administrative penalties.