Report of the 106th session of the Legal Committee

By Lars Lange, IUMI Secretary General and Hendrike Kühl, IUMI Policy Director

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Legal Affairs Committee held its 106th Session (LEG 106) from 27-29 March 2019 and was chaired by Volker Schofisch from Germany. Key issues of interest to IUMI members include: 

Regulatory scoping exercise for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS)

The Committee began its work on the regulatory scoping exercise of conventions emanating from the Legal Committee for the use of MASS. The aim is to assess the degree to which the existing regulatory framework may be affected in order to address MASS operations.

A framework for the regulatory scoping exercise was agreed, including the list of instruments to be reviewed, a template to guide the documentation of results of the regulatory scoping exercise, and a plan of work and procedures.

A web platform (based on one used for similar work being undertaken by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), on safety-related instruments) will be used to facilitate the work.

For each instrument, and for each degree of autonomy, provisions will be identified which:


  • apply to MASS and prevent MASS operations; or
  • apply to MASS and do not prevent MASS operations and require no actions; or
  • apply to MASS and do not prevent MASS operations but may need to be amended or clarified, and/or may contain gaps; or
  • have no application to MASS operations.

Volunteer Member States supported by observer organisations will work on the review. Tim Howse and Professor Dieter Schwampe, members of IUMI’s Legal & Liability Committee, will participate in the review on behalf of IUMI. The objective is to complete the review and analysis for consideration by the Legal Committee at its next session in March 2020.


The Secretariat reported on developments related to piracy and armed robbery against ships which have arisen since the last session of the Legal Committee. This showed that there have been 203 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide in 2017, the lowest for over 20 years. The revised Best Management Practices to deter piracy and enhance maritime security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea (BMP 5) was approved by MSC 100, together with the new Global Counter Piracy Guidance for Companies, Masters and Seafarers; and the updated guidance for protection against piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea region.

New agenda item to develop a unified interpretation on the owner's right to limit liability

The Committee considered a proposed new agenda item to develop a unified interpretation on the test for breaking the owner's right to limit liability under the IMO liability and compensation conventions. The proposal was submitted by Greece, Marshall Islands, ICS and the International Group. Following a wide-ranging discussion about the proposal, Committee members agreed to include the new output in the 2020-2021 biennial agenda. IUMI also supports the inclusion of this new agenda item and our own Legal & Liability Committee is considering if and how to get actively involved in the work of the correspondence group established under the leadership of the International Group of P&I Clubs.    

 More information about the LEG 106 meeting can be found HERE: