Published: May 11, 2023

Oman Introduces New Maritime Law: A Comprehensive Overview and Key Updates

On March 30th, 2023, Sultani Decree No. 19/2023 was issued promulgating Oman’s new Maritime Law (“Decree”). We provide on this note an update to the Client Alert already published on 13 April 2023, which is accessible here. 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.

What’s new?

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.

It’s important to note that the Minister of Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology’s (“MTCIT”) will issue necessary regulations and decisions to implement the Decree as per Article (2) of the Decree. Meanwhile, current regulations and decisions will remain effective unless they contradict the provisions of the Decree.

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.

How can we help?

Al Tamimi & Company have a wealth of experience advising maritime industry players in Oman. Our strong relationship with regulators and rights of audience allow us to provide expert interpretation of new requirements and represent clients in disputes.

With an active presence in the country, our legal team is well-equipped to handle any legal matters that may arise. Don’t hesitate to contact us for comprehensive guidance and assistance with any inquiries or concerns regarding the Decree and its impact on your business operations.