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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.
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