Canada has been a member of the international liability and compensation regime for oil tankers since April 24, 1989.
For the purposes of the regime, an oil tanker is regarded as a sea-going vessel carrying persistent oil in bulk as cargo, either during the voyage when the incident occurs or in the voyage prior.
Liability of the 1992 Civil Liability Convention
Under the 1992 Civil Liability Convention (CLC) claims for compensation for oil pollution damage caused by persistent oil may be made against the registered owner of the ship. The shipowner is only exempt from the principle of strict liability in very special circumstances. The shipowner is obliged to maintain insurance to cover liability. The shipowner is entitled to limit his liability, to an amount calculated on the basis of the gross tonnage of the ship, for any one incident up to a maximum amount. That maximum amount payable under the 1992 CLC in April 2011, for example, was approximately $136 million Canadian.
The 1992 IOPC Fund
Compensation is made available by the 1992 IOPC Fund when claimants do not obtain full compensation under the 1992 CLC. This can happen when the damage exceeds the limits of the shipowner’s liability, or if the shipowner is financially incapable of meeting his obligations. In April, 2011, for example, the maximum compensation payable by the 1992 IOPC Fund for any one incident was approximately $309 million Canadian.
Supplementary Fund Protocol
The Supplementary Fund makes additional compensation available. The total amount payable for any one incident for damage in a State that is a member of this Fund is approximately $832 million. The total compensation includes the amount payable under the 1992 Civil Liability and the 1992 Fund Conventions.
With the additional international coverage, the SOPF using the numbers for April 2011, for example, has more than $1.3 billion Canadian available in the event of a tanker spill in Canada.
The Administrator may assist in the co-ordination of claims with the IOPC Fund. However, once a claim has been submitted to the IOPC Fund the claimant and the International Fund will usually deal with each other from that point forward without the involvement of the Administrator.
Address for IOPC Fund Claims
International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1992
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7592 7100
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7592 7111