Video: Clyde & Co answers legal questions about yacht purchases

The third video in our series of legal advice from superyacht law experts Clyde & Co sees Partner John Leonida answer questions from Boat International readers about yacht ownership.

The first reader asked: “Do I own the design of my yacht?”

John’s answer begins by outlining where you stand if you buy a production or semi-production superyacht. “What you’re buying is the product of the design, not the design itself,” he explains. “The ownership of a design stems from the original design contract, such that if the original owner did not own the design, then any subsequent owner – unless that design is part of the sale and purchase agreement – will not transfer… an owner cannot expect to own the design of the yacht that they have bought. All they have bought is the product.”

But how does this apply to custom builds? Find out in the video below:

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about buying a yacht without asking about tax. Another reader wanted to know: “What rules apply in terms of the tax I have to pay on the purchase of a private yacht?”

If you buy a private yacht within the EU, and that acquisition takes places within the EU, and no tax has been paid on the yacht before, then that transaction will attract VAT, Leonida explains. “There’s no way round it.”

However, Leonida adds: “there are a number of very clever tax schemes, which are not officially sanctioned, that – from a certain point of view – will allow you avoid paying the tax. But those schemes are one person’s view of the tax law and it may not necessarily be the view of the tax authority.”

In the video, Leonida goes on to explain the other schemes that are sanctioned and discusses how various authorities perceive such schemes.



Couach Yachts |  37 m |  12 guests |  €3,500,000


Heesen Yachts |  55 m |  12 guests |  €26,000,000


Azimut |  34.4 m |  12 guests |  $11,500,000