International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS)
Adoption: 3 May 1996; Not in force; superseded by 2010 Protocol: Adoption: 30 April 2010; Not yet in force
The HNS Convention was adopted by an international conference in 1996 and is based on the highly successful model of the Civil Liability and Fund Conventions which cover pollution damage caused by spills of persistent oil from tankers. As with the original oil pollution compensation regime, the HNS Convention will establish a two-tier system for compensation to be paid in the event of accidents at sea, in this case, involving hazardous and noxious substances such as chemicals. However, it goes further in that it covers not only pollution damage but also the risks of fire and explosion, including loss of life or personal injury as well as loss of or damage to property.
Tier one will be covered by compulsory insurance taken out by shipowners, who would be able to limit their liability. In those cases where the insurance does not cover an incident, or is insufficient to satisfy the claim, a second tier of compensation will be paid from a fund, made up of contributions from the receivers of HNS. Contributions will be calculated according to the amount of HNS received in each Party in the preceding calendar year.
By 2009, the 1996 HNS convention had still not entered into force, due to an insufficient number of ratifications. A second international conference, held in April 2010, adopted a Protocol to the HNS convention (2010 HNS Protocol) that was designed to address practical problems that had prevented many States from ratifying the original Convention.
States are being urged to ratify the 2010 Protocol. Together with the IOPC Funds and ITOPF, IMO has produced a six-page brochure that explains to States the purpose and benefit of the HNS Convention and encourages IMO Member States to take the next steps to ratify or accede to the Convention.
Once the 2010 HNS Protocol enters into force, the 1996 Convention, as amended by the 2010 Protocol, will be called “the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010.
Under the 2010 Protocol, if damage is caused by bulk HNS, compensation would first be sought from the shipowner, up to a maximum limit of 100 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR).
The 2010 Protocol will enter into force eighteen months after the date on which the following conditions are fulfilled:
- (a) at least twelve States, including four States each with not less than 2 million units of gross tonnage, have expressed their consent to be bound by it; and
- (b) the Secretary-General has received information in accordance with article 20, paragraphs 4 and 6, that those persons in such States who would be liable to contribute pursuant to article 18, paragraphs 1(a) and (c), of the Convention, as amended by this Protocol, have received during the preceding calendar year a total quantity of at least 40 million tonnes of cargo contributing to the general account.
It has generally been agreed that it would not be possible to provide sufficient cover by the shipowner liability alone for the damage that could be caused in connection with the carriage of HNS cargo. This liability, which creates a first tier of the Convention, is therefore supplemented by the second tier, the HNS Fund, financed by cargo interests. The Fund will become involved:
- because no liability for the damage arises for the shipowner. This could occur, for example, if the shipowner was not informed that a shipment contained HNS or if the accident resulted from an act of war;
- because the owner is financially incapable of meeting the obligations under this Convention in full and any financial security that may be provided does not cover or is insufficient to satisfy the claims for compensation for damage, or
- because the damage exceeds the owner's liability limits established in the Convention.