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IMO Briefing Highlights New Limits of Liability

IMO19 April 2012: Briefing number 12 of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) highlights the new amendments adopted at the IMO Committee's session in London to increase the limits of liability in the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC).

Limitation of liability for maritime claims was originally dealt with in the International Convention Relating to the Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Seagoing Ships, signed in Brussels in 1957, and which came into force in 1968. The IMO, which began operations in 1959, then adopted a new convention in 1976, which raised the limits, in some cases by 300%. The compensation limits of the 1976 Convention were raised by means of the Protocol adopted in 1996, and revised in 2012.

The LLMC Convention sets forth limits of liability for two types of claims against shipowners: claims for loss of life or personal injury, and property claims, including damage to other ships, property or harbor works. In light of the record of incidents and inflation rates, such limits have been raised to cover the increased costs of claims, especially those arising from incidents involving bunker fuel spills. The new limits will enter into force 36 months from the date of adoption, on 19 April 2015, under the tacit acceptance procedure.

Under the Convention, shipowners and salvors may limit their liability except 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." [IMO Press Briefings]