Frustration or Registration

Sitting at my desk shuffling through the dog-eared bundle of bills of sale, invoices, out of date registration and warranty certificates and other detritus that normally represents the “Ships Papers” of most U.K pleasure vessels, I must inescapable conclude that purchasers of the smallest flats, or old bangers, receive more information and protection in such transactions, than any purchasers of pleasure vessels, irrespective of the crafts value or registration status!

The current registration system, introduced in the 19th Century to provide security for the shipping financiers, offers only the option of a worthless small ships registry, or an expensive renewable system that divides a pleasure craft into 64 shares and obliges owners to calculate how many wine barrels she will carry, whilst making no provision for relevant matters such as VAT status, pending claims, warranty expiry dates and claims history.

Many European countries have created, and benefit from, compulsory pleasure craft registration. Why  cannot we  establish a  cheap,effective pleasure craft registry which, like the Land Registry, will investigate and confirm ownership upon first application for registration,and will thereafter record all pertinent issues such as ownership, finance, and disputes, and, like the DVLA, record total losses and write offs?

Better still, if HMC&E co-operated by certifying the VAT status of each craft upon first registration, if necessary on the basis of modest one off VAT payments where appropriate, then this would sort out the current VAT problems, and transform the used boat market. The tax gained would pay for the costs involved.

A regionally maintained statutory registry, accessible over the internet, charging a significant fee for first registration, but thereafter modest dealings fees, would greatly simplify matters, permitting cheaper, quicker and risk-free transactions.

Indications suggest that both the RYA and BMF have put the matter on their agendas, meanwhile, I continue shuffling!


  • Technical construction disputes.
  • Contractual disputes.
  • Marine conveyancing.
  • Title disputes.
  • Salvage and towage.
  • Recreational Craft Directive/Maritime and Coastguard Agency compliance.
  • Marine related personal injury and fatalities.
  • Specialist marine new build/rebuild/conversion agreements.
  • Marine distribution, agency and specialist services contract preparation.
  • Outflagging, ownership vehicles and registration issues.
  • VAT procedures and disputes.
  • Ships Title investigation.
  • Marine Brokerage, Surveying and Mortgage and Insurance disputes.

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