Agreement on a Protocol to establish a supplementary third tier of compensation was reached at an IMO Diplomatic Conference this week. The Protocol as adopted would establish a supplementary Fund, intended to provide compensation over and above that currently available under the 1992 Civil Liability/Fund regime, thereby creating a third tier of compensation for pollution damage caused by oil spills at sea.
Together with the underlying 1992 CLC and FC regime, the new third tier supplementary fund, which will be available for adoption by interested states as a voluntary top-up to the existing regime, will provide compensation up to a level of 750 Million SDR (1 SDR=1,40656 USD).
The proposed new fund, to be financed solely by receivers of oil in participating States, will be available only in respect of claims for pollution damage arising within States Parties to the Protocol, to the extent that such claims have not been fully satisfied under the existing 1992 regime. The Protocol further provides that payment under the supplementary fund will be triggered whenever there is a risk of the damage exceeding the applicable limit of compensation laid down in the 1992 Fund Convention.
As a result the IMO countries have again responded very quickly to concerns that the existing regime, even with the very substantial increases to take effect as from November 1, 2003, still provided insufficient compensation. These previously agreed amendments to the 1992 Protocols to the CLC and Fund raise the limits payable up to a maximum amount of compensation payable by the IOPC Fund for a single incident, including the limit established under the CLC amendments, to 203 million SDR, up from 135 million SDR prior to November 1, 2003.
Now governments who decide they need an even higher level of compensation available to claimants than that provided under the 1992 regime may sign up for the new regime, which will take effect three months after eight states with a combined tonnage of more than 450 million tons have ratified. This new regime will not affect the legal liabilities of tanker owners, but the shipowners gave an undertaking through the P&I Clubs to voluntarily increase the minimum limit of liability under the 1992 CLC to offset any perceived imbalance in contributions from the shipowners and cargo interests that may result from the establishment of the supplementary fund.
INTERTANKO is pleased that the protection of oil pollution victims
has again been enhanced by establishing this international system for supplementary compensation of pollution victims and that this has been possible without unraveling the underlying regime governing tanker owners' liability.
Both INTERTANKO and ICS delegations participated actively in the deliberations.