Harbour authorities—duties and powers
Produced in partnership with Nicola Canty of 9 Hazel Tree Chambers
Harbour authorities—duties and powers

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with Nicola Canty of 9 Hazel Tree Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Harbour authorities—duties and powers
  • Duties and powers
  • Harbour authorities
  • Sources of powers and duties
  • Harbour dues and charges
  • Open port duty
  • Navigation
  • Pilotage (CHAs)
  • Health and Safety
  • Environmental protection
  • More...

Duties and powers

Harbour authorities

A harbour authority is an independent self-governing body that is responsible for safely managing and efficiently running a harbour.

Most harbours are administered by statutory harbour authorities (SHAs), empowered and governed by local legislation which is generally tailored to the particular requirements of the harbour in question.

There are various definitions according to different legislation.

Section 313 of Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (MSA 1995) defines 'harbour authority' as including all persons entrusted with the function of constructing, improving, managing, regulating, maintaining or lighting a harbour:

'"harbour authority" means, in relation to a harbour—

  1. (a) the person who is the statutory harbour authority for the harbour, or

  2. (b) if there is no statutory harbour authority for the harbour, the person (if any) who is the proprietor of the harbour or who is entrusted with the function of managing, maintaining or improving the harbour'

The Department for Transport (DfT) published Guidance on Ports Good Governance in March 2018 for SHAs, whether it is a private port, a trust port, or a Local Authority owned port, to help deliver their key aim of managing, maintaining and improving their harbour in the broad public interest. The Guidance builds on the UK Corporate Governance Code (UKCGC) and replaces previous guidance in the ‘Modernising Trust Ports’ (MTP) document, published in 2000, ‘Modernising Trust Ports, 2nd edition’ (MTP2), published in 2009, and ‘Opportunities

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