We are maintaining a watch on Ministry of Transport proposals to increase the maximum penalties for offences under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 (MTA). MTA fines can be (and often are) covered by insurance policies, so an increase in penalties has clear implications for insurers of marine statutory liabilities.

With a broader review of the MTA likely to be a long process, in the interim the Ministry has proposed changes to update some parts of transport legislation and regulations at the same time, under an omnibus Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill. This includes 22 proposals relating to maritime matters.

One of the proposals to modernise maritime legislation includes proposals to update the maximum level of fines for safety offences under the MTA:

to allow the courts to impose penalties that better reflect the level of harm and culpability associated with the offences.

The proposal is to increase the penalties for some safety offences (primarily relating to holders of maritime documents) from the current maximum fine of $150,000 to $500,000. This will align the penalties under the MTA with the fines under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. A table of proposed fines is at p44 of the consultation document here:

VIEW document

McElroys will be providing updates as this proposal develops. Once a bill is introduced there will be public consultation and an opportunity to make submission on any proposed changes.

If you would like to know more about the issues arising in this matter, please contact Stacey Fraser.