KNMC watersport magazine

The Pleasure Craft Act

Newly built and by individuals or importers from outside the European Union imported pleasure boats between 2.5 and 24 meters long, must, when placed on the market in the Netherlands, have a so-called CE mark. This is a European ‘label’ that they meet European requirements in the field of construction, equipment, emissions and environment. For the Netherlands, these rules are translated into the Pleasure Craft Act. This was introduced in 1996, with a transitional period of two years, and from the year of construction 1998 all ships brought onto the market must comply with it. Even ships that are partly built or finished professionally have to meet CE requirements for that part and for the self-builder it applies that the ship must first have been in his possession for five years before it can be sold or resold without CE marking. Especially around the turn of the century things went wrong with the CE marking, but also nowadays we sometimes encounter ships that (still) do not have CE marking. Mr. Grotius bought a new sailing yacht of German manufacture and an expert report subsequently revealed: “In view of the 36 (!) shortcomings identified on the basis of the standards declared applicable by the shipyard, I conclude that the vessel does not comply with the European Directive in many essential respects”. And: “The vessel does not comply with the legal requirements.” This means that the vessel should not have been provided with a declaration of conformity and the CE marking and should not have been placed on the market.”

No small reproaches! The yard had built a neat prototype and provided it with a CE mark, HIN number and classification B. This CE mark then applied to all vessels of the same type. Apparently the yard felt that the series ships could be built more easily, resulting in the many CE defects. The court ruled that this was a breach of contract and dissolved the agreement. It also happened regularly that at Dutch shipyards where motor yachts were built, the prototype of a series was completely worthy of CE, but that due to all kinds of additional wishes of clients the vessels built based on this prototype deviated to such an extent that the CE certification was no longer correct. A yard often got away with this because it was allowed to issue a so-called declaration of conformity for this self-built vessel, which meant that the butcher was inspecting his own meat. When such a vessel was subsequently sold, and it was (carefully) inspected, it was often found that the vessel deviated from the CE requirements that were issued for the original prototype.

The absence of CE marking is not always fatal, it may also be that it simply has not been applied for and then a so-called Post Construction Assessment (PCA) can be carried out by a notified body to obtain CE marking. In the aforementioned case, it was usually also possible to obtain the necessary certification by means of an inspection, because the vessel complied with the basic safety requirements, but the design deviated and that had to be tested against the applicable regulations. As a boat owner you absolutely want to have this CE mark, if only because insurance companies are allergic to boats that lack the mandatory CE mark and, in addition, putting a boat on the market without a CE mark is a so-called economic crime. It is easy to imagine that if it turns out that your ship lacks the mandatory CE marking, you will not be able to get rid of it. When buying a ship, such a check must therefore always be part of an inspection.

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Frits Hommersom met groene bril

"You have the right to a lawyer who tells it like it is!"

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