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The Marine Equipment Directive 2014/90/EU

Requirements for Marine Equipment

EU Requirements: The Marine Equipment Directive 2014/90/EU (the “MED”) sets out requirements imposing internationally agreed technical standards on certain marine equipment installed or to be installed on EU flagged ships. This must be within scope of particular international maritime conventions that are listed below, regardless of whether or not the ship is situated in the EU at the time when it is fitted with the equipment, for the purposes of enhancing maritime safety and preventing marine pollution.

The following conventions determine which ships are in scope and which equipment must comply with the MED:

  • The 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (Colreg)
  • The 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Marpol)
  • The 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas)
Note: The applicable conventions (the “Conventions”) include their protocols and codes of application, and resolutions and circulars of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which give effect to those conventions and their testing standards.

The requirements include the need for in-scope equipment to meet the design, construction, and performance requirements for that equipment set out in the Conventions (or in certain cases, alternative standards), labelling requirements and conformity assessment procedures. The MED also sets out the particular obligations of manufacturers, their authorized representatives, importers, and distributors.

If you are a manufacturer, an authorized representative of the manufacturer, or an importer or distributor of marine equipment for which technical standards are set by any of the Conventions, and that equipment is to be placed on board EU flagged ships, you will need to comply with the requirements of the MED.

It is your responsibility to comply with the MED. You must also comply with national laws and regulations in Member States, which implement the MED.

See below for further information about the EU requirements.

UK Requirements: The Merchant Shipping (Marine Equipment) Regulations 2016 (2016 No 1025) (“MSMER”) implement the MED (see above under EU Requirements) in the UK and therefore impose the requirements described in the EU section above on UK flagged ships, regardless of whether or not the ship is situated in the UK at the time when it is fitted with the relevant marine equipment, for the purposes of enhancing maritime safety and preventing marine pollution.

If you are a manufacturer, an authorized representative of the manufacturer, an importer or distributor of marine equipment for which technical standards are set by the Conventions listed above, and that equipment is to be placed on board UK ships, you will need to comply with the requirements of the MSMER.

It is your responsibility to comply with the MSMER. See below for further information about UK requirements.

This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. We encourage you to consult your legal counsel if you have questions about the laws and regulations concerning your product. This material only reflects the position at the date of writing and requirements in the EU and the UK may change. You should refer to current UK Brexit guidance about your marine equipment products (see below) to learn more about changes that may affect you from January 1, 2021.

EU Requirements

What products does the MED apply to?

The MED applies to a wide range of equipment placed or to be placed on board an EU ship and for which the approval of the flag State administration is required by the relevant Conventions listed above. Limited exemptions and exceptions may apply in particular situations beyond the scope of this note.

An EU ship is one flying the flag of an EU Member State and falling within the scope of any of the Conventions. The MED applies even if the ship is not situated in the EU at the time when the equipment is fitted.

Examples of marine equipment covered by the MED are: life-saving appliances, pollution prevention equipment, fire protection equipment, navigation aids, and radio communication equipment.

Who has obligations under the MED?

The MED sets out different obligations for manufacturers, authorized representatives of the manufacturer, importers, and distributors.

  • You are a manufacturer if you manufacture marine equipment yourself or have marine equipment designed and manufactured for you and market it under your name or trademark.
  • You are an authorized representative if you are established in the EU and a manufacturer has given you a written mandate to act on their behalf in relation to specific tasks.
  • You are an importer if you are established in the EU and you place marine equipment from outside the EU onto the EU market.
  • You are a distributor if you make marine equipment available on the EU market but you are not a manufacturer or importer.

How are manufacturers and importers affected by the MED?

Manufacturers must:

  • Ensure that marine equipment has been designed and manufactured in accordance with the technical specifications and standards required by the MED (as set out in the Conventions).
  • Draw up the required technical documentation and have the applicable conformity assessment procedures carried out by an accredited third party.
  • After successful conformity assessment, draw up an EU Declaration of Conformity in a language or languages required by the Member State in which the marine equipment is sold. At the point marine equipment is placed on board an EU ship, a copy of the declaration covering that equipment shall be provided to the ship, and shall be kept on board until the said equipment is removed from the ship.
  • Affix the “wheel mark” symbol or, where permitted, an electronic tag instead of or in addition to the wheel mark.
  • Keep a copy of the technical documentation and declaration of conformity for at least 10 years after the electrical equipment has been sold in the EU and in no case for a period shorter than the expected life of the marine equipment.
  • Ensure that their products (or in some cases, packaging) bear a type, batch or serial number or other element allowing their identification.
  • Indicate their name, registered trade name or registered trade mark and the address at which they can be contacted on the product (or in some cases, on packaging).
  • Provide easily understood instructions and all necessary information relating to installation and safety, along with any other documentation required by the international instruments or testing standards made under the Conventions.
  • Where they believe a product to which they have affixed the wheel mark is not in conformity, take immediate corrective measures to bring that product into conformity, to withdraw it or to recall it, if appropriate. There are further obligations regarding notification to authorities in appropriate circumstances.

Importers must:

  • Indicate their name, registered trade name or registered trade mark of the manufacturer and/or importer and the postal address at which they can be contacted (or in some cases, on packaging).
  • Provide relevant authorities on request with all information and documentation necessary to demonstrate conformity of the product in a language understood by or acceptable to that authority.
  • Cooperate with competent authorities on request on action to eliminate the risks posed by marine equipment they have placed on the market.

An importer shall be considered a manufacturer for the purposes of the MED and shall be subject to all of the obligations of the manufacturer set out above, where it places marine equipment on the market or on board an EU ship under its own name or trademark or modifies marine equipment already placed on the market in such a way that compliance with the applicable requirements may be affected.

How are authorized representatives affected by the MED?

Authorized representatives must perform the tasks specified in the mandate received from the manufacturer. As a minimum the authorized representative must:

  • Keep a copy of the technical documentation and declaration of conformity for at least 10 years after the electrical equipment has been sold in the EU and in no case for a period shorter than the expected life of the marine equipment.
  • Provide relevant authorities on request with all information and documentation necessary to demonstrate conformity of the product in a language understood by/acceptable to that authority.
  • Cooperate with competent authorities on request on action to eliminate the risks posed by marine equipment they have placed on the market.

Identification of supply chain

All economic operators are subject to a duty on request from relevant authorities to identify who has supplied them with relevant marine equipment and to whom they have in turn supplied that equipment.

What should you do if marine equipment is not in conformity with the MED?

Manufacturers:

  • Should immediately take the corrective measures necessary to bring electrical equipment into conformity, to withdraw or to recall it, as appropriate; and
  • Where the marine equipment presents a risk, immediately inform the competent national authorities of the Member States where it was sold, giving details, in particular, of the non-conformity and of any corrective measures taken

The MED does not place specific requirements on authorized representatives, importers and distributors in this regard beyond the duties of cooperation with authorities noted above. This may require you to cooperate in the withdrawal or recall of the marine equipment from the market or the taking of other corrective action, as they may require. It is recommended that you consult your legal counsel in the event you become aware of non-conforming marine equipment.

UK Requirements

Where do the MSMER apply?

The MSMER apply to all in-scope marine equipment sold in the UK, but the provisions apply differently to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales, “GB”) and Northern Ireland. You can read more about the position in Northern Ireland (“NI”) below.

What products does the MSMER apply to?

The MSMER implement the provisions of the MED in the UK, along with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (“CMA”) Merchant Shipping Notice 1874 M+F (“Notice”).

The MSMER apply to MED scope marine equipment installed or to be installed on any United Kingdom ship (including hovercrafts), wherever it may be.

The Notice sets out conformity assessment procedures for equipment placed on board UK ships which is outside the scope of the MED, but requires conformity approval in line with UK law. It also sets out the technical standards for equipment not requiring conformity approval, before being placed on board a UK ship.

Annex 1 of the Notice contains the design, construction and performance requirements of the international instruments where they are relevant to the MSMER.

Examples of marine equipment covered by the MSMER are: life-saving appliances, pollution prevention equipment, fire protection equipment, navigation aids and radio communication equipment.

Who has obligations under the MSMER?

The MSMER set out obligations for manufacturers, authorized representatives of the manufacturer, importers and distributors.

  • You are a manufacturer if you manufacture marine equipment yourself or have marine equipment designed and manufactured and market it under your name or trademark.
  • You are an authorized representative if you are established in the UK and a manufacturer has given you a written mandate to act on their behalf in relation to specific tasks under the MSMER.
  • You are an importer if you are established in the UK and you place marine equipment from outside the UK onto the UK market.
  • You are a distributor if you make marine equipment available on the UK market but you are not a manufacturer or importer.

How are manufacturers and importers affected by the MSMER?

The requirements are materially the same as set out above for the MED, with the exception of the conformity mark.

Under the MSMER, the conformity mark must be a UK conformity mark for marine equipment and take the form specified in Annex 5 of the Notice, rather than that of a wheel mark.

In addition, neither the MSMER nor the Notice make provision for electronic tagging.

How are authorized representatives affected by the MSMER?

The requirements are materially the same as set out above for the MED.

How are distributors affected by the MSMER?

The requirements are materially the same as set out above for the MED.

Identification of supply chain

The requirements are materially the same as set out above for the MED.

What should you do if marine equipment is not in conformity with the MSMER?

The requirements are materially the same as set out above for the MED.

Northern Ireland

The MCA published additional guidance in December 2020 (reference MIN 590 M+F) to explain the UK’s procedures for conformity assessment and acceptance of marine equipment for UK ships following the end of the Brexit transition period. This additional notice states that the UK conformity assessment procedures will apply for all UK approved equipment manufactured or installed on board UK ships in NI, including UK ships with their home port in NI.

However, note that the MED will continue to have effect for MED approved equipment in NI.

Manufacturers and other economic operators based in NI who wish to place marine equipment on board ships registered in EU and EEA states after the end of the transition period will need to ensure that such equipment complies with the relevant EU conformity assessment procedures.

BREXIT: UK Government guidance

The MCA, through the Notice, has released guidance on the impact of Brexit, as it relates to marine equipment.

This states that the MCA’s aim is to keep the UK conformity assessment procedures as similar to the MED process as possible to minimise disruption to the industry post-Brexit.

From January 1, 2021, the UK conformity assessment regime came into effect.

Importantly, manufacturers with existing approval certificates in accordance with the MED may continue to make their equipment available to the UK market and to be placed on board UK ships until January 1, 2023, provided that the MED and UK standards remain equivalent.

The rationale behind this date and flexibility is to allow businesses time to adjust.

MED approved marine equipment placed on board a UK flagged vessel can remain on board for the duration of its operational life and only when items are replaced, after January 1, 2023, must they be replaced with marine equipment which is in compliance with the MSMER and the Notice – that is, to have UK conformity mark as opposed to a wheel mark.

It is likely further legislation will be needed to phase out the recognition of such equipment and as such, manufacturers (and other economic operators) will need to ensure they regularly check for updates.

Brexit continues to be fluid and dynamic. You should consult your legal counsel if you have questions about how the laws and regulations apply to your products from January 1, 2021.

What should you do if the marine equipment is not in conformity with the MSMER?

The requirements are materially the same as set out for the MED above.

Additional information

We strongly encourage you to review the guidance provided by the UK Government’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency on the UK conformity assessment procedures for marine equipment following the transition period.

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