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RNLI ‘likely’ to waive covenant but JLA must repaint lifeboat

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A COVENANT on a vessel which the Jersey Lifeboat Association is fundraising to buy is ‘likely’ to be waived, the RNLI has said.

The lifeboat Sir Max Aitken III

However, the charity warned that it would be ‘prepared to pursue legal action’ to ensure that the boat is repainted in colours which ‘adequately differentiate it’ from the RNLI fleet.

Meanwhile, the JLA – whose members include former crew of the St Helier RNLI station who broke away from the charity following a breakdown in relations – has made national headlines following its disagreement with the UK-based charity.

The Daily Mail reported that the RNLI has suffered at least six further public disputes with lifeboat stations across the UK in the past 18 months and quoted some crew members saying tensions were building due to a rise in political correctness and health and safety protocols.

The JEP revealed last month that questions surrounded whether the JLA would be able to operate the Sir Max Aitken III, which it is currently fundraising to buy, due to a covenant being in place on the £100,000 vessel.

All vessels which previously belonged to the RNLI have a clause attached to them preventing them from being used as a lifeboat in UK or Irish waters. The Channel Islands are legally defined under international law as being in UK territorial waters.

The covenant also means that when the vessel is sold on, any future buyer is required to comply with the terms and the seller has to inform the purchaser.

Although the RNLI is resolute that the covenant was still in place, the Jersey Lifeboat Association has previously said that any legal clause on the vessel would have fallen away.

When details of the covenant emerged last month the RNLI told the JEP it was considering revoking the clause in respect to the JLA buying the Sir Max Aitken III.

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An RNLI spokeswoman has now said: ‘The covenant exists to prevent any confusion between the Sir Max Aitken III and any in-service RNLI lifeboat.

‘Although the RNLI is likely to waive the search and rescue prohibition in the covenant of sale, the organisation’s concern is that a decommissioned boat would be operated by another organisation while still painted in RNLI colours, thus risking confusion.

‘While enforcing the covenant through the original purchaser is likely to be legally complex and the RNLI would rather not take this step, especially against another charity, we would be prepared to pursue legal action if necessary to ensure that the Sir Max Aitken III, if purchased and operated by another search and rescue organisation, is repainted in colours which adequately differentiate it from our fleet.’

Krysta Eaves

By Krysta Eaves
author

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