Shipping and Aircraft

The firm's shipping and aircraft practice acts for some of the world’s leading financial institutions, law firms, ship builders, yacht brokers, ship and aircraft owners and charterers, and has gained an international reputation for commercially sensitive legal advice relating to all aspects of the acquisition, registration, financing, disposal and operation of ships in the context of the tax neutral registries of the BVI, Cayman Islands and Cyprus. Our aircraft practice centres on aircraft financing involving BVI and Cayman corporate entities.

Ship Registration

Both the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands are Category 1 branches of the General Register of British Ships. There are no tonnage restrictions on the registration of vessels in either of the jurisdictions.

Cyprus administers a major international registry within the European Union and controls one of the world's largest merchant fleets not least due to its favourable tax regime for shipping activities the advantages of which include no tax on profits from the operation or management of a Cyprus-registered vessel and no income tax on the emoluments of officers and crew. In addition, Cyprus has a wide choice of jurisdictions worldwide with compatible legislation for parallel-in and parallel-out registrations.

Our maritime law team can assist with the full registration process, including provisional and permanent registrations, parallel (bareboat) registration, the registration of new builds, transfers of ownership, and transfers of existing vessels in the BVI, Cayman and Cyprus.

Ship and Aircraft Financing

We regularly advise lenders on loan agreements and security documents, asset securitisation structures and operating and financial lease structures.

Shipping Litigation

The firm with substantial experience in international shipping law also conducts a large litigation practice which advises on maritime disputes and the implementation of maritime claims against vessels, including vessel arrest and detention.

Aircraft and Aircraft Mortgage Registration

We advise clients on the registration of aircraft and aircraft mortgages in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

The Cayman Islands has a straightforward system of aircraft registration and mortgaging based on the British model. The Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority maintains a reputation of providing a safe, stable and credible flag for registration of an aircraft, and imposes no specific restrictions on where the aircraft may be operated, subject of course to international restrictions. Our aviation attorneys can assist you with the process of registering your aircraft in the Cayman Islands, which typically involves the establishment of a Cayman Islands exempted company. The Cayman Islands is an attractive choice for lenders in aircraft financing transactions because of the confidence of financiers in the Cayman Islands legal system and their ability to enforce mortgages through the Cayman Islands’ British based court system, where necessary. Our aviaition attorneys can also assist with the process of establishing such mortgage registration.

In the British Virgin Islands Harneys is at the forefront of advising clients on the territory’s developing aircraft registry. A new law enacted in 2012 complements the jurisdiction’s status as a US Federal Aviation Authority Category One aircraft register under the International Aviation Safety Assessment programme by creating a framework for registration in the British Virgin Islands of security over aircraft, and separately, aircraft engines. The regime contemplates the appointment of a Registrar who is mandated to establish and maintain a register of aircraft mortgages, and a register of aircraft engine mortgages, that will be available for inspection by the public, and over which the Registrar will have administrative and operational control.

This development paves the way for new business opportunities which complement and support the British Virgin Islands’ position as the premier offshore corporate domicile with over 850,000 companies incorporated to date.

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