12/12/19

Non-commercial pleasure craft do not belong in the Enterprise Court until 1 September 2020.

by Marie Deramoudt
Law firm Leeward explains the implications of the entry into force of the new Maritime Code on 01 September 2020 for cases relating to recreational craft.


Leeward
Non-commercial pleasure craft do not belong in the Enterprise Court until 1 September 2020

The Ghent Enterprise Court, Bruges Division, has rejected its material jurisdiction to take cognizance of a claim relating to an accident involving bodily harm on board a pleasure craft.

The plaintiff brought the dispute before the Enterprise Court on the basis of article 574, 7° of the Judicial Code, which declares the Court competent to take cognizance of claims relating to maritime and inland navigation. However, with reference to the 'Law on the sea', i.e. Book II of the Commercial Code, a distinction must be made, according to the defendant, depending on whether or not the vessel is used for profitable shipping operations. The court followed the defendant in this and consequently declared itself materially incompetent and referred the case to the Court of First Instance.

As of 1 September 2020, the situation changes. The Explanatory Memorandum to the new Maritime Code that will enter into force on 1 September 2020 makes it clear that, contrary to what is the case today, the existence or non-existence of a profit motive will no longer be relevant. Regardless of whether pleasure craft are used recreationally or commercially, they will be ships within the meaning of the Code. The entry into force of the Maritime Code will be accompanied by an amendment to article 574, 7° of the Judicial Code to the extent that the words "concerning maritime and inland navigation" will be replaced by "in shipping matters". In other words, cases relating to pleasure craft will from then on also have to be brought before the Enterprise Court.

Leeward

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