ITIC circular: Changes to the French Code des Transports (L5546-1-3 3 °)

Changes to the French Code des Transports (L5546-1-3 3 °)

To all French-domiciled yacht managers, including crew agents and their insurance brokers

Recent changes to the French Code des Transports (« French Code ») have had an impact on crew agents domiciled in France,who provide  « les services privés de recrutement et de placement des gens de mer (SPRPGM) », or crew placement services.

Crew Agents and the French Code

Under French Law, crew agencies domiciled in France have long since been required to hold some form of financial guarantee – most often achieved by taking out insurance – to cover a seafarer’s financial loss where the same results from the crew agent’s non-performance of their legal obligations; namely their failure to adequately verify the skills and qualifications of seafarers, and to communicate a maritime employment contract.

However, the recent amendments further extended these obligations.

Prior to the amendments, L5546-1-3 3 of the Code stated that crew agencies must ensure compliance in respect of crew recruited or placed through them on a number of matters including (1) the crew’s qualifications, (2) their medical aptitude, (3) their compliance with the employment contract and all applicable rules and (4) compliance by the ship owner as regards to cover for seafarer repatriation.

It is this final obligation which has been expanded. The updated code (at L5546-1-3 3 °) now additionally states that crew agencies must ensure compliance by the owners of all vessels holding a Certificat du Travail Maritime with their obligations to hold a financial guarantee against the abandonment of seafarers. Where they fail to do so, and the crew is abandoned, it is the crew agent who will step into the shoes of the owner and become responsible for these liabilities.

What does this mean in practical terms?

Any crew agency, domiciled in France, needs to now verify the existence of a certificate on board the vessel which attests to the existence of insurance to cover a seafarer’s loss in the event that they are abandoned by the vessel’s owner. 

The degree of control to be exercised by the crew agent is to check that the financial guarantee is in place.  The certificate that attests to its existence needs to include all of the information provided for in Art. 5 of the Decree No. 2020-704 of 10th June, 2020.

Should a crew agent fail to meet these obligations, their liability is capped at EUR 5,000 for repatriation costs and EUR 10,000 to cover other pecuniary losses.  These caps apply per claim and per seafarer, and L-5546-1-5 now requires insurance to be held to a limit which is not less than the crew agent’s maximum liability.

Since the introduction of these requirements, we have seen many requests from ITIC’s members for guidance.  As these obligations may not be wholly covered by an ITIC policy as it stands, we have developed a bespoke endorsement which can be added to cover to further extend the protection provided by ITIC , and to ensure that members are able to demonstrate their compliance with the French Code.

For more information, please speak to Chloe Townley or your account executive.

Yours faithfully,

For International Transport Intermediaries Management Co Ltd.
Managers of International Transport Intermediaries Club Ltd

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