British Waterways Act 1995 Section 17 (3)

A simple piece of law that has caused endless discussion both before and after its inception.

Section 17 (3) is almost the only piece of legislation that is relevent to most discussion about liveaboards and overstaying and the much abused term ‘continuous cruiser’.

The 1995 Act was first introduced in 1989 when British Waterways proposed that all boats should have a mooring before they were granted a licence. Opposition to this was so vehement  by both bodies such as the IWA and NABO as well as dedicated individuals that the legislation was in Parliament for 6 years before being passed in it present form.

Hence, it is said, Section 17 (3) is a compromise and as such open to the various interpretations that have lead to such works of fiction as the ‘mooring guidance for continuous cruisers’ and the term ‘continuous cruiser’ itself as British Waterways have made successive attempts to dilute and subvert the application of this law. A law that allows most liveaboards to live the way they choose to.

So here it is;

(3) Notwithstanding anything in any enactment but subject to subsection (7) below, the Board may refuse
a relevant consent in respect of any vessel unless—
(a) the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel complies with the
standards applicable to that vessel;
(b) an insurance policy is in force in respect of the vessel and a copy of the policy, or evidence
that it exists and is in force, has been produced to the Board; and
(c) either—
(i) the Board are satisfied that a mooring or other place where the vessel can reasonably
be kept and may lawfully be left will be available for the vessel, whether on an inland
waterway or elsewhere; or
(ii) the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel to which the
application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for
which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more
than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “British Waterways Act 1995 Section 17 (3)”

  1. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    An unjust law is not a true law

  2. poshratz MonsterID Icon poshratz says:

    Yes, Section 17 of the 1995 Act… this is the wording that both saves and condemns the cruising boater depending on your interpretation.

    “….bona fide for navigation…” is the crucial phrasing. BW have attempted to stretch the definition of this phrase to mean such as ‘making a progressive journey around the canal network’. A quick look at the Oxford English Dictionary’s definitions of these terms shows how far BW are prepared to bend definitions to try to justify a position that suits them but that is not written in law.

    I have always been of the opinion that this phrasing simply protects from boaters taking a boat length of bank and squatting it, treating it as there own without paying a mooring fee. This ties in with the movement requirement “…without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances…”.

    So I think a reasonable and defensible interpretation of this wording is that boaters should move within the defined time period to another place. As place is not defined in the law, I think that boaters should apply ‘reasonability’ to the distances they travel. For example, 20 meters would be an unreasonable amount of movement and could be argued to be the same place. However, a mile is without doubt a different place and 3 miles is a very different place etc etc.

    Rich Poshratz

Leave a Reply