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Oil Pollution Damage (International Conventions)

Volume 891: debated on Monday 28 April 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade when the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1969 will enter into force; what legislation will implement it; what will be the effect; and what is the current position regarding the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1971.

The International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1969, in which the United Kingdom and some 13 other States are participating at present, will enter into force on 19th June 1975. Orders and statutory instruments required to apply various provisions of the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) Act 1971—as amended by Section 9 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1974—which implements the convention will be made shortly. The Act, some sections of which, under Statutory Instrument 1971 No. 1423 (C.36), are already in force, that is, some provisions as to liability and certain other matters, provides for a substantial improvement in the position of claimants for oil pollution damage from an identifiable tanker carrying a cargo of persistent oil in bulk because liability is strict and not based on fault, and because the limits of the shipowner's liability arc increased, and because tankers carrying more than 2,000 tons of persistent oil have to be insured and to carry a certificate to that effect. But the limits of liability in the international convention relating to the Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Seagoing Ships 1957 will continue to apply to ships registered in countries which are parties to that convention and are not parties to the 1969 convention. Regulations relating to certificates for compulsory insurance will be laid shortly.The position on the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1971 is that while the Government are strongly in favour of this convention, and, indeed, Part I of the Merchant Shipping Act 1974 enables us to ratify it—which we shall do soon—only two countries have so far participated in it. Our latest information suggests that some time will elapse before a sufficient number of major oil importing States will participate to bring it into force.