Jamaican legal system is  based on English Common Law. The primary legislation governing the regulation and development of shipping is the Shipping Act 1998 which incorporates over fourteen (14) International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) Conventions ratified by Jamaica and includes modern provisions for the registration of ships and mortgages. The Act is based on British Shipping legislation and established the Maritime Authority, a guise government body, with separate corporate existence and full authority to administer the ship registry and implement Jamaica’s Flag State and Port State obligations.
The International Conventions to which Jamaica is a State Party are following:
  • Convention on the International Maritime Organization, 1948 and amendments;
  • International Convention for the safety of Life at Sea, 1974 and it’s Protocols of 1978 & 198;
  • International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 and it’s Protocol of 1988;
  • International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships , 1969;
  • Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972;
  • Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Mater, 1972;
  • International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, 1969;
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (all annexes);
  • International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992;
  • International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992;
  • International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue 1979;
  • International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping  for Seafarers, 1978, as amended; (including 1995 amendments);
  • International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001.
The Convention for the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims 1976 and its Protocol of 1996 and the International Convention on Salvage 1989 have been incorporated in the provision of the Shipping Act and form part of Jamaican Law. Steps are being taken to accede to both Conventions.
The Shipping Act was amended in December 2000 to incorporate a modern legal framework for the administration of an international ship registry. The Maritime Authority of Jamaica or amendments are related to widened ownership criteria, and tax concessions for owners and operators of Jamaica ships.