International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage

General Information

  1. Type: Convention
  2. Date of signature:
  3. Place of signature: Brussels, Belgium
  4. Depositary:
  5. Date of entry into force: 19/06/1975

Category

Environment and products

Sub category

Maritime and Law of the Sea

Groups

IMO

What is it about?

This Convention guarantees that adequate compensation is available to persons who suffer oil pollution damage resulting from maritime casualties involving oil-carrying ships. The owner of a ship at the time of an incident, or where the incident consists of a series of occurrences at the time of the first such occurrence, is held liable for any pollution damage caused by oil which has escaped or been discharged from the ship as a result of the incident. This is a no fault liability. This Convention also standardizes the rules regarding procedure and responsibility. The Convention requires ships covered by it to maintain insurance or other financial security in sums equivalent to the owner's total liability for one incident. It applies to all seagoing vessels actually carrying oil in bulk as cargo, but only ships carrying more than 2,000 tons of oil are required to maintain insurance in respect of oil pollution damage. The owner of a ship may limit his liability to a maximum of 18 million US dollars. The provisions of the 1969 Convention do not apply to warships or to ships used in non-commercial government service. The Protocol adopted on 9 November 1976 introduced a new unit of measure to calculate liability using Special Drawing Rights. The Protocol of 27 November 1992 and the amendments of 18 October 2000 revise the compensation offered to victims of oil pollution damage (up to 115 million dollars depending upon the size of the ship).

Why is it relevant?

State parties to the Convention of 1969 allow their population affected by an oil spill to avoid long and complex legal procedures. Funds so paid can also serve to partially compensate losses caused by the pollution and earnings losses in fishing and tourism. This instrument equally requires owners of ships to maintain insurance so as to be covered in case of pollution caused by their ships.

Additional Information

This Convention is supplemented by the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage and by its Protocol of 27 November 1992 that requires increased compensation to victims of oil spill pollutions. In 2003, 43 States, representing 48% of world tonnage, ratified the Convention of 1969.

  • International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (FUND) (London, 18 December 1971)
  • Protocol to Amend the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (FUND 2) (London, 27 November 1992)

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