BIMCO, an international shipping association that shipowners controlling approximately 65 percent of the world’s tonnage, announced today the publication of its highly anticipated GUARDCON, a standard contract for the employment of security guards on vessels.

The new contract has been developed following the industries unfortunate need to provide ship owners and private maritime security companies (PMSC) with a clearly worded and comprehensive standard contract that governs the employment and use of security guards, with or without firearms, on board merchant vessels.

“In response to ship owners’ increasing demand for security services, an ever growing number of private maritime security companies have entered the market to meet that demand,” said BIMCO’s Chief Legal Officer, Grant Hunter.

While BIMCO recognizes that it would not like to see the use of armed security guards on ships become institutionalized, it does recognize that while the industry awaits a more permanent long term solution, armed guards on ships are an effective, and arguably the best, deterrent for vessel hijackings and attacks.

Hunter adds, “In the absence of a standard contract for these services, ship owners and their P&I Clubs are currently faced with the difficult and time consuming task of assessing large numbers of contracts from these security companies, all with varying terms and conditions. GUARDCON’s objective is to create a contractual benchmark for the employment of security services so that minimum levels of insurance cover for PMSCs are established and that adequate safeguards are put in place to ensure that liabilities and responsibilities are properly addressed and that all necessary permits and licenses are obtained.”

The GUARDCON contract is nothing to sneeze at either.  It was drafted over the course of three months by industry experts ranging from shipowners to lawyers with first-hand knowledge of both the shipping industry and private security contracts.

“GUARDCON has been drafted in just a little over three months by a small group of experts drawn from ship owners, underwriters, P&I Clubs and lawyers with first-hand experience of working with contracts for security services, said BIMCO Deputy Secretary General, Søren Larsen. “The speed at which GUARDCON has been drafted is a considerable credit to the drafting group whose members devoted many long hours free of charge to the project.”

In addition to the GUARDCON contract, BIMCO has also published Guidance on the Rules for the Use of Force (RUF), which is expected to be of great assistance to owners and private maritime security companies when drawing up and agreeing to the rules of engagement for their own purposes.

Sample copies of the GUARDCON contract, with detailed Explanatory Notes, and the Guidance on the Rules of the Use of Force can be found at the BIMCO website, HERE.

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