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British Marine works to make Peer-to-Peer boating safer

Published on: 12 December 2018

Following the recent publicity regarding the crowdfunding campaigns for British Marine members Beds on Board and Borrow a Boat, British Marine is taking this opportunity to detail the work that it has carried out over the past three years to retain safety for those who enjoy boating through this type of business model.

Peer-to-Peer static rentals

For more than three years, British Marine has been monitoring the current trend of providing boats for overnight accommodation via Peer-to-Peer (P2P) platforms. In an effort to ensure that this practice is undertaken safely by boat owners and marina and mooring operators, British Marine has worked with a number of P2P companies to create the P2P Code of Conduct. Adopting this conduct is now mandatory for any company applying for British Marine membership and failure to adhere to it results in membership being rescinded.

Private owners who rent their vessels have generally relied on the knowledge and experience of their charter agent or charter managers to ensure that the vessel meets its legal requirements and the industry’s best practice. The P2P model disrupts this knowledge level. It can lead to vessel owners, who may not understand the complex legalities of marine charter law or that there even is a law, to rent their vessel directly to a member of the public who may be unaware of how to use a vessel safely.

Any vessel rental, whether it is static or not, is a commercial transaction. This means that there is a responsibility on the owner or operator of the vessel to ensure the safety of their customers. Due to the complexities of UK law, there is no single piece of legislation that covers all the types of operation. Therefore, all vessel owners must ensure that they are aware of the regulations applicable to their vessel and its operation.

The British Marine P2P Code of Conduct requires P2P companies to ensure that those owners who register their vessel confirm that they understand their legal responsibilities and that there is an internal system that carries out spot checks to verify owner compliance. British Marine has also been working directly with Beds on Board to create a guidance document for owners and the marinas in which the vessel is berthed to highlight some of the responsibilities they may have. This guidance document has been shared with the international marine industry and developed into a global document for safe P2P operations. British Marine's Code of Conduct is available to members from the British Marine website. The new international guidance document has now been released and is available to members from the ICOMIA Library.

The moorings owner, the marina, boatyard or Navigation Authority ultimately have the power to allow this type of operation to take place. Many of these have now added conditions to their licenses and agreements that set out the management process and requirements that ensure that the owner is made aware of their accountability before consent is given.

There are now a significant number of P2P companies offering users hundreds of thousands of vessels for accommodation or charter globally. From an industry position, British Marine believes that with the right safety management this new business model is an opportunity to get more people involved and enjoying being on the water. People who are using P2P platforms are important customers and it is not the industry’s place to choose how people enjoy the water. Industry’s role is to enable them to do so safely.

British Marine is continually working with UK regulators to create a simpler, easier to understand regulatory system to reduce the burdens on the industry, both for this business model and others. And it will continue to work with its membership to monitor and react to market changes, so that all businesses can continue to operate safely and with confidence. It is only with the industry’s ongoing support that British Marine can do this work and ensure a safe experience for those who choose to get out on the water in the various ways available to them.