I sometimes wonder whether there is some malign force deep in the mechanisms of the European Union that hates ferries, and gets up in the morning wondering what else can be done to harm them. It would be easy to explain if they were chiefly British ferries, or those serving these islands which were being harmed. That would be less than subtle punishment for the UK’s semi-detached and currently hostile Europeanism. But all ferries, from the Baltic to the Aegean, seem to bring out the worst in the European regulator.
It has been going on for years. It manifested itself in the phasing out of duty free allowances, which, at a stroke, removed about one third of the ferry operators’ earning capacity. One doesn’t wish to revisit historic battlefields, but it still seems to be a move that was both unnecessary and intentionally harmful.
As reported last year in an Interferry News item, BIMCO is working on the development of a new standard time charter party for roll on/roll off passenger ferries. The sub-committee working on the project includes Interferry members Stena RoRo and Macholl & Specht, a German shipbroker.
Two areas of particular concern are currently being addressed. Charterers frequently employ their own personnel to work in housekeeping and in the shops and restaurants on board. Obligations and liabilities in respect of loading, securing and lashing cargo on the vessel are often areas of dispute in Ro/Pax trades.
The sub-committee will meet again in September to tackle issues relating to shops, restaurants and passengers. “We hope that the new contract will be ready for publication in May 2015. However, before we put it forward for adoption by BIMCO’s Documentary Committee, an industry consultation will be conducted to give interested parties an opportunity to comment on the draft,” says Mrs Anna Wollin Ellevsen, Legal and Contractual Affairs Officer at BIMCO.