Rules for Force Launched

The long awaited 100 Series rules for the use of force (RUF) have finally been released after a 20-month consultation period across the shipping industry.

With the support of SAMI, BIMCO, ICS, and UNICRI who have played a key role in making RUF possible, the author David Hammond, a UK barrister-at-law and maritime lawyer, said the 100 Series RUF is intended to be the first international model set of RUF for the benefit of and use by the entire maritime industry.

However the rules will not provide any form of indemnity or immunity against civil or criminal liability when force has been used unlawfully, they exist to provide a model against which privately contracted armed security personnel may be professionally trained; companies may be audited and operator actions measured and judged by competent authorities.

The guidance of the past simply wasn’t enough – there is a “perversity” that rules for the use of force have not existed, and according to David Hammond there is no definition of the term “guidance” in any legal dictionary – so it was clear that something was lacking in the provision of support to the maritime industry.

The rules set out a threshold to start using force, soft measures come first, then escalating to aimed warning shots, finally rule 103 allows use of lethal force. The laying out of the steps is key, before there was simply guesswork, but now there is a process and a means of working within the boundaries of acceptability – it also addresses human rights in terms of the use of force at sea, providing as it does not just protection for the guard, but seafarers, and also the pirates.

At the core of the 100 Series is the basic principle of the individual right of self-defence; itself a universal concept and during the development of the rules, the legal team researched the legislation relating to force across 76 different nations.

The rules have undergone stringent operator, commercial and legal scrutiny from across the maritime industry and over a long period of time, and with the 100 series in place stakeholders can make informed decisions when reviewing and comparing RUF.  Many misconceptions have pervaded, but finally it is becoming more clear and during the development those involved did a lot of listening to Masters, Owners, PMSCs and stakeholders and it is the intention that the model RUF can deliver to the betterment of all.

The 100 Series Rules complement current industry RUF guidance on the drafting of RUF, as well as supporting the requirements of the International Standard Organization’s standard for private maritime security companies: ISO PAS 28007. The text has been submitted to and has been accepted by the International Organisation for Standards and has also been submitted to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as an information paper for inclusion at its maritime safety committee in June.

See  for the latest situation and background development.


Original Article