Waterkampioen watersport magazine

Ship’s Register

I bought a motorboat. Beautiful thing and the price was not wrong. But now it appears that my yacht is listed in the shipping register and the previous owner did not know this either. What does this mean for me? Is it really my yacht or officially still owned by the man listed in the shipping register?”

When selling a residential property, everyone knows that a house is listed in the land register and that a notary has to be involved to transfer ownership via a notarial deed. That ships can be included in a similar system (the shipping register) is less well known. One of the reasons for including a ship in the shipping register is that (just like a house) a mortgage can be obtained on it.

Not legally valid.
In the case of Hans Snel a purchase agreement was concluded between the parties while it was not known that the ship was listed in the shipping register. The necessary notarial transfer has therefore not taken place. And from the fact that there is another party listed as owner in the shipping register than the one who sold the ship to Mr. Snel, it appears that this registration has not been deleted. So the ship was sold by the original owner, but the necessary notarial acts were not performed at that time either to achieve a legally valid transfer of ownership. After all, if this had happened the ship would have been registered by notarial deed in the name of the buyer/successor with whom the original owner had concluded the purchase agreement. So although the ship is physically in the possession of Mr Snel (and the buyer before him), he has only become the ‘economic owner’ when he bought the motor yacht. The seller was not authorized to dispose of the ship, because he had not obtained the ship from his seller through the notary.

For convenience we exclude theft, but since a party cannot transfer more rights than he possesses, the seller could not transfer the legal ownership and Mr Snel did not become the legal owner of the ship. It goes without saying that the one who has not become the legal owner cannot resell the ship anymore either. The ship has therefore become practically unsaleable for Mr Snel.

Can this defect in the delivery be ‘repaired’? Yes, but this depends on the question whether the owner mentioned in the register is still able and willing to cooperate. In such a case the notary can ask the original owner to cooperate in the notarial transfer of the ship and the change of name in the shipping register. It does not matter how many times the ship has been sold in the meantime, the important thing is that the ship is legally transferred via the registered owner. In this situation one does not have to pay more than the average notary costs as they apply to the transference of a house and it is customary that the buyer, in this case Mr Snel, takes care of these costs. The name in the shipping register can also have the ship deleted from the shipping register. Then it becomes an ordinary movable thing, like a car. However, the advantage of registration in the shipping register is that the ownership is known to everyone and that the vessel can be reclaimed in case of theft and resale.

If the original owner is no longer alive, and there are no known heirs who could cooperate, or if the ship was registered in the name of a dissolved company, the current economic owner must try to arrange for the ship to be registered in his name through the courts. But that is a costly matter. Not only does a lawyer have to be involved, but also a court-appointed ‘liquidator’ who arranges what should have been arranged in the past. And both have to be paid. It is therefore always advisable, before buying a ship, to investigate (or have someone investigate) whether it is in the shipping register and, if so, to have a notarial deed of transfer arranged at the time of purchase.

More information or download old articles:  https://www.anwb.nl/kampioen/algemeen/digitaal-archief


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