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Legal Committee, 101st session, 28 April to 1 May 2014

May 1, 2014

Guidance on “blue cards” approved by Legal Committee
Guidance for accepting Blue Cards or similar documentation from insurance companies to States Parties to a number of IMO treaties was approved by IMO’s Legal Committee, when it met for its 101st session.
 
The guidance relates to insurance certificates issued in relation to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 (Bunkers Convention); the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996, as amended by the Protocol of 2010 to the Convention (2010 HNS Convention); the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 (2007 Nairobi WRC); and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992, as amended (1992 Civil Liability Convention).
 
The guidance states that a State Party to the Civil Liability Convention, the Bunkers Convention, the 2010 HNS Convention or the 2007 Nairobi WRC should accept Blue Cards issued by a member of the International Group of P&I Associations (P&I Clubs) when it is possible to verify the Blue Card from the P&I Clubs website.
 
When receiving a Blue Card or similar documentation from insurance companies, financial security providers and P&I Clubs outside the International Group, the State Party should verify the financial standing and hence the solvency of such company in order to make sure that prompt and adequate compensation for the victims is available. Criteria for acceptance is set out in the guidance.
 
HNS 2010 correspondence group established to facilitate ratification of the treaty
The Committee discussed the current status of the International Convention on Liability and compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious substances by Sea, 2010 (2010 HNS Convention), which as to date received no ratifications, and re-established the HNS Correspondence Group, with a view to facilitating a concerted effort to implement and coordinate the ratification, and entry into force, of the treaty.
 
The Committee encouraged Member States to ratify and bring into force the 2010 HNS Convention as soon as possible.
 
Focus on "IMO conventions: effective implementation" highlighted
The Committee highlighted the World Maritime Day theme for 2014, "IMO conventions: effective implementation", and encouraged delegations to work with their respective Governments towards achieving effective and uniform implementation of relevant IMO conventions and to report any barriers to implementation to the Legal Committee for advice and guidance.
 
The Committee noted that the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) for 2014-2015 included an increased number of activities aimed at assisting Member States in drafting, updating and bringing into force primary and secondary maritime legislation in matters related to the implementation of all IMO instruments. 
 
Moreover, reflecting this year's World Maritime Day theme, several technical cooperation activities were planned in the ITCP for the benefit of developing countries, advising them on the legal (national and international) implications of acceptance of IMO conventions and the enactment of IMO Codes and Guidelines. The expected output is increased number of acceptances of IMO instruments and systematic and consistent implementation of their provisions.
 
The Committee noted the entry into force, on 23 April 2014, of the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974; and noted that the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007, had met its entry-into-force requirement on 14 April 2014 and will enter into force on 14 April 2015.
 
Places of refuge for ships in need of assistance discussed
The issue of places of refuge for ships in distress was raised at the Committee, in the light of the recent incident involving the Maritime Maisie, and the MS Flaminia in 2012. The Committee noted that a ship will request a place of refuge only if it is in distress or in need of assistance and that early and decisive intervention will minimize the risk of structural deterioration and mitigate the threat of pollution from the ship's cargo and bunkers.
 
The Committee agreed that there was a need to focus on the ratification and effective implementation of a number of existing international treaties, as the existing framework already included relevant provisions concerning liability and compensation for pollution prevention measures, clean-up operations, wreck removal and damage caused by fire and explosion, including where damage or losses occur following a State’s decision to grant a ship a place of refuge.
 
The relevant treaties include the Civil Liability Convention 1992 (in force), the Bunkers Convention 2001 (in force), the HNS Convention 2010 (yet to enter into force), and the Nairobi Wrecks Removal Convention 2007 (which will enter into force in 2015). The Fund Convention 1992 and the Supplementary Fund Convention 2003 in respect of oil pollution damage, were also relevant to places of refuge.  
 
Draft Counter-Terrorism Legal Training curriculum noted
The Committee noted the draft of the "Counter-Terrorism Legal Training Curriculum – Module 5 – Transport related (civil aviation and maritime) Terrorism Offences", which has been prepared by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and IMO.
 
The main purpose of the Module is to assist governments and policymakers as well as practitioners in identifying, understanding, and effectively implementing international legal instruments into national legislation. These instruments include the 2005 Protocols to the SUA Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, and the related Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf. 
 
A final version of the Curriculum will be made available on the UNODC website (www.unodc.org) in English and French.
 
Counter-piracy legal work noted
The Committee noted the outcome of the November 2013 meeting of Working Group 2 (WG2) of the Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and noted that piracy continued to be a significant international problem.
 
The Committee welcomed the development of a draft law for establishing a Coastguard/Maritime Police by the Somali Contact Group on Counter Piracy (the Kampala Process), which includes delegates from the Federal Government of Somalia, Puntland, Galmudug and Somaliland. 
  
Adoption of MLC 2006 amendments welcomed
The Committee noted with satisfaction the entry into force, on 20 August 2013, of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, and the adoption of amendments relating to provision of financial security for abandonment, personal injury to and death of seafarers. The amendments to the Code of the Convention, adopted in April 2014 by the ILO Special Tripartite Committee, were based on the recommendations of the joint IMO/ILO Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Liability and Compensation regarding Claims for Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers. 
 
The Legal Committee urged those Member States that have not already done so, to consider ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, at their earliest convenience.
 
Consultative group established on offshore exploration and exploitation activities
The Committee expressed its appreciation to Indonesia and Denmark for their offer to stand ready to co-chair an intersessional consultative group, to develop guidance on bilateral and regional agreements or arrangements related to the liability and compensation issues connected with transboundary pollution damage resulting from offshore oil and exploration activities.
 
The Committee reminded Member States to send examples of existing bilateral and regional agreements to the Secretariat and encouraged Member States and observer delegations to cooperate intersessionally and to lend their expertise.
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