Maritime claims: liability limits increase after Malta signs up to 1996 Protocol

Amounts of compensation for maritime claims for loss of life or personal injury, and property claims, will be significantly increased from May, following the accession of Malta to the 1996 Protocol to the 1976 Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC).

Malta, which deposited its instrument of accession on 13 February 2004, is the tenth State to accede to the 1996 Protocol, triggering the entry into force of the protocol 90 days from that date (on 13 May 2004).

The 1996 LLMC Protocol substantially increases the amount of compensation payable in the event of an incident and also introduces a "tacit acceptance" procedure for updating these amounts. This means that, in future, amounts can be raised with a given date for entry into force after consideration and adoption by the Legal Committee, providing a specified number of objections are not received. This should ensure that if the need arises, amounts can be increased without undue delays.

Under the 1996 LLMC Protocol, the limit of liability for claims for loss of life or personal injury for ships not exceeding 2,000 gross tonnage is 2 million SDR (US$3 million* ). For larger ships, the following additional amounts are used in calculating the limitation amount:

  • For each ton from 2,001 to 30,000 tons, 800 SDR (US$1200)
  • For each ton from 30,001 to 70,000 tons, 600 SDR (US$900)
  • For each ton in excess of 70,000, 400 SDR (US$600).

Under the 1996 LLMC Protocol, the limit of liability for property claims for ships not exceeding 2,000 gross tonnage is 1 million SDR (US$1.5 million). For larger ships, the following additional amounts are used in calculating the limitation amount:

  • For each ton from 2,001 to 30,000 tons, 400 SDR (US$600)
  • For each ton from 30,001 to 70,000 tons, 300 SDR (US$450)
  • For each ton in excess of 70,000, 200 SDR (US$300)

Previous limits
This compares with the limits under the 1976 Convention of 330,000 SDR (US$499,500) for personal claims for ships not exceeding 500 tons plus an additional amount based on tonnage:

  • For each ton from 501 to 3,000 tons, 500 SDR (US$750)
  • For each ton from 3,001 to 30,000 tons, 333 SDR (US$500)
  • For each ton from 30,001 to 70,000 tons, 250 SDR (US$375)
  • For each ton in excess of 70,000 tons, 167 SDR (US$251)

For other claims, the limit of liability was fixed under the 1976 Convention at 167,000 SDR (US$250,500) for ships not exceeding 500 tons. For larger ships the additional amounts were:

  • For each ton from 501 to 30,000 tons, 167 (US$251)
  • For each ton from 30,001 to 70,000 tons, 125 SDR (US$180)
  • For each ton in excess of 70,000 tons, 83 SDR (US$125)

Background
The Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims was adopted on 19 November 1976 and entered into force on 1 December 1986.

The Convention replaced the International Convention Relating to the Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Seagoing Ships, which was signed in Brussels in 1957, and came into force in 1968.

Under the Convention, limits are specified for two types of claims claims for loss of life or personal injury, and property claims (such as damage to other ships, property or harbour works).

The Convention provides for a virtually unbreakable system of limiting liability. It declares that a person will not be able to limit liability only if "it is proved that the loss resulted from his personal act or omission, committed with the intent to cause such a loss, or recklessly and with knowledge that such loss would probably result".


* Using the IMF exchange rate at 13 February 2004 of SDR1 = USD 1.50844 (http://www.imf.org/ )

17/2/04

_______________

IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Web site: www.imo.org

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Senior External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org) or
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org ).