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Collisions between vessels may result in both civil and criminal liability. The Regulations set out in this Part are relevant to both. Provisions governing the navigation of vessels have existed in some form since 1840, although rules of good seamanship had been recognised long before that date. Safe navigation is today a matter of international regulation, and is the subject of measures agreed at a conference of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which form part of English law. These are the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972, as amended (the Collision Regulations). They are given effect so far as the United Kingdom is concerned by the Merchant Shipping (Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions) Regulations 1996, SI 1996 No 75. The Collision Regulations were formerly printed in Merchant Shipping Notice No MSN 1781 (M + F). This has been replaced by MSN 1781 (Amendment 2) which no longer includes the text of the Collision Regulations; they are reproduced in this chapter in item E.5.
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