Legal Committee, 109th session (LEG 109), 21-25 March 2022 (closing remarks)


(21 to 25 March 2022)

Madam Chair, excellencies, distinguished delegates and observers,

We are approaching the end of this very busy session of the Legal Committee. After four days of virtual meetings, you made good progress on many issues.

In the interest of time, I will only mention some of your achievements.

As instructed by the Council which met just two weeks ago, you have taken prompt and concrete action to address some issues within your purview relating to seafarers and shipping in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. In this regard you have added a new sub-item to your agenda.

As a result, you have developed guidance on the impact of the situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov on insurance or other financial security certificates which will be disseminated by means of a LEG circular.

Seafarers, their safety, and welfare were again a priority for the Committee. Your Committee demonstrated its continuous commitment to addressing the abandonment and fair treatment of seafarers.

In this context, the Committee endorsed practical guidelines for port State and flag State authorities on how to deal with seafarer abandonment cases. I welcome this development and further decision of the Committee to forward the guidelines to the ILO-IMO Joint Working Group. 

I am sure that these guidelines, once completed, will greatly assist in the resolution of cases of abandonment, which are growing at an alarming rate. We must all continue to work to eliminate seafarer abandonment. 

Related to unlawful practices associated with the fraudulent registration and fraudulent registries of ships. Further to the adoption by the Assembly of the resolution on Encouragement of Member States and all relevant stakeholders to promote actions for the prevention and suppression of fraudulent registration and fraudulent registries and other fraudulent acts in the maritime sector, at this session, you agreed to progress the work and to initiate a study on issues arising in connection with fraudulent registration that will be undertaken in cooperation with WMU and IMLI.

This is a problem of great concern and I sincerely hope that the Committee will be able to develop further measures to prevent these illicit practices, which undermine the foundation of the overall IMO regulatory regime. This work will continue to contribute to the effective implementation of IMO instruments.   

You also continued to discuss various aspects related to the IMO civil liability regime. In this context you embarked on the consideration of measures to assess the need to amend liability limits.

This subject is important for the industry and other stakeholders. I am confident that in the near future you will find a suitable and satisfactory solution.

On a related subject, you also made progress on the development of a Claims Manual for the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001. This is particularly important to the victims of the bunker oil pollution damage who need guidance on the process for obtaining prompt compensation.

Furthermore, you also decided to approve a new output on the agenda related to the development of guidance for the proper implementation and application of IMO liability and compensation conventions. All of these actions will further strengthen the robust IMO civil liability and compensation regime.

I also welcome your decision to accept a new output on the agenda related to the operation of the Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships. I am glad the Legal Committee will work together with MSC and FAL to address common issues, in order to ensure that IMO treaties are ready for the introduction and operation of MASS on a global scale.

Let me conclude by thanking and congratulating all of you for your contributions during this session. Our appreciation also goes to the Chair, Ms. Gillian Grant, who demonstrated great leadership skills and ably led the Committee through this busy session.

I also thank the Vice-Chair, Mr. Ivane Abashidze, for his important contributions; and Mr. Diego Ramirez, Chair of the Working Group regarding the situation in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.

And I would like once again to congratulate you on your re-election.

Distinguished delegates,

My best wishes for a happy weekend. I hope you all continue to remain safe. I look forward to seeing you soon in London.

Thank you, Madam Chair.