Greece has a new Code of Private Maritime Law which applies since 1 May 2023.

Article 165 to 189 apply to Seafarers’ employment contracts, and to the rights and obligations related to their sea service; article 190 to 195 apply to Masters.

Important provisions under the New Code of Private Maritime Law

1.         The individual sea service employment contracts are mandatorily ruled by:

(a) Collective Agreements to which the individual employment contract refers and is subjected;

(b) the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 (MLC), as ratified and applying in Greece at each time;

(c) the European Union laws and regulations;

(d) the New Code, for matters that are not regulated by the above.

2.         By article 181 of the new Code it is provided that the representative (company and physical persons acting for it) who sign a seafarer’s contract in Greece, are in full liable towards the seafarer, together with the shipowner, for all his rights in relation to the employment, including the right to wages, medical treatment, sickness wages, compensation for disability or death in case of a labor accident.

It is important that, in cases where a seafarer’ s contract is signed in Greece, an additional person or entity is added to the registered owner, which is often a single-ship “paper” company.

Attention, the liability of the above representative of the foreign shipowner has a short limitation/prescription period, which is one year for wages disputes and three years for accident claims.

3.         An important right for seafarers is introduced by article 186 of the new Code:

The shipowner is obliged to have insurance in place for his civil liability towards seafarers, between others for medical treatment, repatriation, sickness wages, burial costs and compensation for labor accident disability or death.

Under Greek special laws on labor accidents’ compensation, this compensation in case of disability or death due to labor accident may be full (including full restoration of loss of earnings in the future or loss of maintenance in case of death, plus moral damages for pain and suffering, grief and sorrow, in case the seafarer/family proves that the accident was due to violation of safety regulations.

The seafarer has now under the new Code a direct action against the insurer (P&I) for these claims.


  • Non-Greek seamen
  • onboard non-Greek flagged vessels
  • may be entitled to compensation under Greek law
  • even if the seafarer’s employment contract included a foreign law clause
  • in case it is established that the beneficial owner of the ship was Greek or that the actual place of business of the shipowner was in Greece

For example: a Ukrainian seafarer suffering an accident onboard a Panama flagged ship owned by a Panama registered company, can claim compensation under Greek law for his disability, in Greek Courts, as long as is established that the actual place of business of the shipowner was in Greece.