Are You Ready for HNS?

Thursday, April 22, 2004
London law firm Lawrence Graham says shipping is focusing on complying with security requirements, but another Convention soon to be enforced will have major ramifications for all aspects of shipping. Are you ready for the Hazardous and Noxious Substances Convention 1996?

Writing in the latest issue of Shipping Lawgram, Imogen Rumbold, shipping partner, says the HNS Convention is likely to come into force in the next two years. Charterers and receivers will pay more, ports and terminals face new liabilities, shipowners will need new insurance and documentation, P&I Clubs must set up new guarantees, authorities around the world will have more requirements to police and in any accident to almost any ship claimants for environmental damage will have new legal remedies to pursue. Yet awareness of the Convention is low, and there has been little preparation in most areas of shipping.

HNS 1996 will provide a compensation regime for damage arising from an incident involving Hazardous and Noxious Substances during their carriage by sea. The Convention covers not only pollution and property damage but also death and injury for incidents involving chemicals, LNG, LPG and oil (where the IOPC Fund/CLC do not apply). The wide and multi-sourced definition of HNS means that almost every ship afloat will be affected in some way by the HNS Convention. The second result of the wide definition is that deciding who will pay to the HNS Fund, and how much, is very complex. Ultimately, many thousands of importers, receivers and terminals world-wide will be affected, as will most shipowners and all P&I Clubs.

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