International Convention – Civil Liability in Bunker Oil Pollution Damage

IMO or the International Maritime Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping. It was issued on March 17, and it has 174 member states and three associate members. On March 23rd, 2001, the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (the Convention) was adopted by the IMO to unify international rules and procedures for defining questions of liability and providing adequate compensation. Additionally, we can find The International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (1992) that covers oil tankers’ oil pollution damage. The United Arab Emirates has approved the Convention with the Federal Law Number 166/2020, issued on November 10th, 2020. First, it is essential to define two terms about the Convention:

According to Article 2, the Convention applies to pollution damage in the territory, including the territorial sea and the exclusive zone of a State Party. There is a responsibility of the shipowner when any bunker oil causes pollution damage. Still, in the event of damage resulting from an act of war or civil war, when there is an omission for a third party or negligence of any government, the liability shall not be attached to the shipowner (Article 3). Article 4 of the Convention stayed the exclusions; it means in which cases this Convention does not apply, such as:

Sometimes, the incidents of pollution damage could involve two or more ships; in this case, the shipowners of all ships concerned will be responsible for the injury (Article 5). On the Convention’s authority, Article 7 lays down that shipowners having a gross tonnage greater than 1000 must have insurance or financial security. In the event of pollution damage, they will have the amounts to cover the injury. Each ship must have a certificate attesting to the insurance or the financial security with information such as the name of the ship, port of registry, IMO ship identification number, period of validity of the certificate, and other information. This certificate must be in the official language of the State Party, but there will be a translation in case of the certificate is not in English, Spanish or French. With the understanding of Article 8, the Rights to Compensation under this Convention will be extinguished after three (3) years from the date when the damage happened. It will not be possible to establish any action more than six (6) years from the date of the episode. In consonance with Article 9, The responsibility of the shipowner will be brought only in the Courts of States party where the pollution damage occurred. The judgment given by a Court must be recognized in any State Party, excluding where the decision was obtained by fraud or where the perpetrator was not given reasonable notice and the opportunity to present his or her case. The judgment must be enforceable in each State when the formalities required in that State have been fulfilled (Article 10). This Convention is open for signatures in London (Headquarter of IMO) between October 1st, 2001 and September 30th, 2002, but it continues to open for accession to other States. States’ consent could give it across signature without reservations, signature subject to ratification or accession (Article 12). On these terms, States with more than one law system, at the time of signature or ratification, must declare that Convention shall apply to all its territorial units or specify the territorial units where the Convention applies. Article 14 lays down that this Convention shall enter into force one year after the date on which eighteen (18) States have signed the Convention without reservations with the Secretary-General. In the States that will enter after, this Convention must enter into force three (3) months after the date of deposit. Nevertheless, the Convention can be denounced by any State Party by the deposition of an instrument with the Secretary-General, and it will take effect one year after its deposit with the Secretary-General (Article 15). For the revision of the Convention, a conference will be necessary with the requested minimum of one-third of the States Parties (Article 16). The Convention must be deposited with the Secretary-General according to Article 17, and the Secretary-General must:

According to Article 18, once the Convention enters to force, the text must be transmitted to the United Nations’ Secretariat for registration and publication (Article 102 Of the Charter of the United Nations). The Convention was issued in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish (Article 19). To know more about the legalities of maritime laws reach out to the maritime lawyers at Fotis International in Dubai