Offering guidance for properly implementing and applying IMO liability and compensation conventions

By Guillermo Zamora, CEO, Marlin Blue

A Claims Handling Manual may offer assistance for any problem encountered by claimants for the liable party to pay its dues in maritime incidents.

IOPC Funds, IMO and IUMI are concerned about the events following maritime incidents in which the shipowner does not have the financial backing to adequately respond to these liabilities and subsequent claims while holding a Blue Card. As such, in some cases, non-IG fixed premium insurers may not provide sufficient financial backup when in demand from a victim.

Similarly, the financial solvency of some shipowners and the companies created to be registered as owners of sea-going vessels are sometimes insufficient.

This kind of claim arriving at a safe port is a challenging job which requires specialisation. As such, the IOPC Fund offers a Claims Manual for claiming against the very own Fund.

Claimants are not always professionals, and often their resources are limited. 

Recent developments on this matter at the IMO’s Legal Committee include a revision of Circular Letter No. 3464 as well as work on the “Development of guidance for the proper implementation and application of IMO liability and compensation conventions”. These efforts are of great value. 

Obtaining prompt information from the liable party (e.g., who they and their insurers are) is a crucial and challenging task which any claimant ought to know. Also, understanding how limits of liability work will benefit the outcome for any claimant and, therefore, a Claims Handling Manual may be of assistance.

The IMO Legal Committee has scrutinised several incidents involving liability and compensation conventions. It found that in approximately 30% of incidents either the vessel was uninsured, or the insurer was unidentifiable. Another 20 incidents examined were insured by non-IG insurers, resulting in six out of these 20 being paid by the IOPC Fund before the shipowner´s limit of liability had been reached. 

In conclusion, to develop guidance and proper implementation of IMO liability and compensation compensations, elaborating a Claims Handling Manual may be beneficial.