Abandonment, personal injury and death of seafarers - draft guidelines
IMO/ILO Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Liability and Compensation regarding
Claims for Death,
A Joint International
Maritime Organization (IMO)/International Labour Organization (ILO) Working
Group has developed draft resolutions and guidelines to address the problems
of abandonment, personal injury and death of seafarers.
The Joint IMO/ Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Liability and Compensation
regarding Claims for Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers,
which was established following submissions to the IMO Legal Committee and the
ILO Governing Body during 1998 and 1999, met at IMO headquarters for its second
session from 30 October to 3 November.
The Working Group developed the draft text of two resolutions and associated
guidelines, one relating to abandonment and one relating to death and injury.
The Working Group agreed to hold a third meeting in from 30 April to 4 May 2001
to finalize the resolutions and guidelines before presenting them to the IMO
and ILO governing bodies for final approval and adoption.
The resolutions and guidelines are intended to address the fact that although
there are a considerable number of international instruments concerned with
certain aspects of the problems relating to abandonment, death and personal
injury of seafarers, none adequately deal with the problem comprehensively.
The ILOs overriding goal is to promote opportunities for all women and
men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity,
security and human dignity. A number of ILO instruments contain clauses relating
to conditions of work on board ships and the rights and duties of shipping employers
IMO is the United Nations agency concerned with safety of shipping and protection
of the marine environment and is concerned with ensuring ships comply with international
standards, including financial security.
on provision of financial security in cases of abandonment of seafarers
The proposed possible draft resolution states that abandonment of seafarers
is a serious problem, involving a human and social dimension and requiring urgent
attention. It affirms that payment and remuneration and provision for repatriation
should form part of the seafarer's contractual and/or statutory rights and are
not affected by the failure or inability of the shipowner to perform his obligations.
The draft resolution recognizes that in cases where the shipowner fails to perform,
flag States are called upon, and in some cases labour-supplying States may be
called upon, to intervene.
The draft guidelines on provision of financial security in cases of abandonment
of seafarers suggest the possibility of having flag States requiring shipowners
to have effective financial security (such as a bank guarantee) to cover their
contractual obligation, even in cases of abandonment. In this connection it
was recognized that abandonment included not only repatriation, but also support
for the crew members while stranded and payment of outstanding remuneration.
Immigration status while stranded was also a related issue.
on shipowners responsibilities in respect of contractual claim
The proposed possible draft resolution notes there is a need to recommend minimum
international standards for the responsibilities of shipowners in respect of
contractual claims for personal injury and death of seafarers. The draft resolution
notes concern that if shipowners do not have effective insurance cover, or other
form of financial security, seafarers may not obtain prompt and adequate compensation.
The draft resolution adds that recommendatory guidelines are an appropriate
interim means of establishing a framework to encourage all shipowners to take
steps to ensure that seafarers receive contractual compensation for personal
injury and death.
The draft guidelines give definitions for contractual claims, effective insurance
and so on, and set out shipowners' responsibilities to arrange for effective
insurance cover. The draft guidelines recommend ships should carry a certificate
issued by the insurer.
The draft guidelines include a model receipt and release form which would be
signed by the seafarer or heir or dependent and which would acknowledge receipt
of a sum in satisfaction of employer's obligation to pay contractual compensation
for personal injury and/or death. But, importantly, the form would state that
payment would be made without admission of liability and without prejudice to
the right to pursue any claim in law in respect of the incident.
The third meeting of the Working Group is expected to finalise the draft resolutions
and guidelines for presentation to the IMO Legal Committee at its 83rd
session in October 2001 and to the ILO Governing Body at its 279th
in late 2001. The resolutions and guidelines could then be adopted by the IMO
Assembly in November 2001.
Strength widows urge solution to crew claims problem
Two widows of seafarers drowned on bulk carrier Leros Strength welcomed
the work of the Joint Working Group in seeking to resolve the issues of abandonment,
personal injury and death of seafarers.
In a statement to the Working Group, Urszula Miegon and Regina Szysmanska said
that immediately after the sinking, representatives of the company made vigorous
efforts to persuade all the widows to accept the sum of US$30,000 as compensation
for their husbands' deaths; and were asked to waive all other claims.
The widows said they were being helped by a lawyer to pursue their claim for
compensation for possible negligence by the shipowners and also to determine
the cause of the loss of the ship and its crew.
The widows were also received by IMO Secretary-General Mr. William A. O'Neil.