BIMCO was represented at the recent meeting which coincided with the fortieth anniversary of the Funds. Agenda issues included the importance of maintaining legislation in line with treaty law provisions, difficulties occasionally encountered with non-International Group insurers, the Funds’ current compensation cases and a report on developments with the HNS Convention.
The Governing bodies of the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Funds met in London from 29 October to 1 November 2018. The session coincided with the Funds’ Fortieth Anniversary. In recognition of the occasion, the opportunity was taken to express appreciation to the three former Directors: Dr Reinhard Ganten, Mr Måns Jacobsson and Mr Willem Oosterveen who all attended for a presentation and reception.
The Funds’ agenda comprised a wide range of issues.
Consideration was given to concerns that Member States’ legislation is not always updated to reflect current limitation levels under the 1992 Civil Liability Convention (CLC) and the 1992 Fund Convention. Difficulties identified include failure to properly define the terms of the Conventions and inaccurate time-bar provisions while, in a recent case, unamended limitation levels resulted in an “insurance gap” between cover of SDR3 million provided by a non-International Group insurer and shipowner limitation set at SDR4.51 million. Member States were urged to review the position with the Funds’ Secretariat offering their services to assist administrations in meeting their treaty obligations.
An interim report was presented relating to concerns about risks from oil spill incidents involving ships with insurance provided by entities outside the International Group of P&I Clubs. While non-International Group cover is not, in itself, problematic, difficulties have been experienced, usually involving smaller vessels, where cover did not meet the required level, insurers were uncooperative or insurers went into liquidation following an incident. Work will continue to develop provisions to balance owners’ choice of insurer with appropriate regulatory controls.
It was reported that as at August 2018, there were 115 States Party to the CLC and 1992 Fund Convention, with Thailand having joined in July 2018. The Supplementary Fund now comprises 32 States Party following New Zealand’s accession on 29 September 2018.
The observer status of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is considered every three years. A review took place this year and confirmed BIMCO’s position together with a further fifteen NGOs including the Comité Maritime International (CMI), ICS, International Group of P&I Clubs, INTERTANKO and ITOPF. Observer status was granted in response to an application from Cedre (Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution).
The latest position was reported on eleven current incidents involving the 1992 Fund Convention including the Prestige and the Hebei Spirit. A possible new incident in Canada in 2016 was noted. However, due to the type of vessel and cargo, it is not yet clear whether the incident falls within the scope of the oil spill Conventions.
A report was made on the current status the HNS (Hazardous and Noxious Substances) Convention. Four States, Norway, Canada, Turkey and, recently, Denmark, are contracting parties. A further eight States are required to bring the instrument into force and this is expected to be achieved by 2020/2021. In anticipation of implementation, the IOPC Funds’ Secretariat is undertaking preparatory work to set up the necessary facilities, support services and claims-handling arrangements for the HNS Fund.
Routine business included administration, financial reports, financial policies and procedures, budgetary issues and Secretariat matters.
The next meeting of the Funds will take place in London in April 2019.