On July 1, 2014, Professor Stephen L. Sepinuck will see the culmination of three years’ work put into action when the Uniform Certificate of Title for Vessels Act for the Uniform Law Commission becomes law in Virginia. Sepinuck served as reporter for the law, which means that he was the principal drafter of it.
Building the Uniform Vessel Titling Act
The Uniform Law Commission is an organization made up of commissioners from each state and territory in the United States. In December of 2007, the ULC determined that it should undertake a project on vessel titling. A year later, the Commission asked Professor Sepinuck to serve as reporter.
“This was one of the most interesting, collaborative, and fun projects of my professional career,” said Sepinuck. “The ULC’s process is often slow and occasionally frustrating, but it is also incredibly thoughtful and careful and undoubtedly the best was to draft legislation,” he added.
Drafting Law From Policy Suggestions
The ULC gave Sepinuck the assignment of taking the policy decisions of the Drafting Committee and turning them into statutory language. During the drafting process, Sepinuck also made substantive suggestions to ensure that the law would work seamlessly with both federal regulations and other uniform laws. After over a year of drafting work, the first full draft was reviewed at the annual meeting of the ULC in 2010. After a second reading in 2011 and a vote to approve, the final version of the act was completed in November of 2011.
Implementation Through Legislation
Uniform Law Commission recommendations do not immediately become law in all states. Commissioners are expected to introduce or encourage legislators to introduce the recommendations. Because the state legislatures have widely varying schedules, it often takes years for a ULC uniform act to become widely adopted. While Virginia is the first state to pass the act to which Professor Sepinuck contributed, several others have it under consideration.