Issue 12 2023

Ensuring the Quality of ISM Audits – The Role and Adequacy of the Legal Framework of Auditing

by Deepak Raj SHARMA Sigmund SIMONSEN

Maritime safety and thus ISM (International Safety Management Code) audits are directly or indirectly regulated by a host of regulatory instruments. These regulations set the standards for verification, certification, and auditing mechanisms. Intrinsically, these legal regulations influence, or at least should influence, the quality and effectiveness of this auditing mechanism. The legal regulatory framework of the auditing mechanism of maritime safety management has been sparsely researched. Therefore, the understanding and adequacy of the legal framework may not be optimal.
The aim of this paper is thus to identify, clarify and discuss the current legal framework of ISM audits. The intended outcome will be an enhanced and clarified understanding of the underlying legal framework governing flag state audits as well as Port State Control in the context of maritime safety management. We also examine if the current legal framework of ISM audits is adequate to ensure quality and effectiveness of auditing mechanisms in meeting the objectives. The regulatory framework of safety management of other domains will also be compared with the maritime domain to identify and discuss best practices.

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