Nov 122011

The end of Erika, twelve years to reach a conclusion

At an assembly of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds held on 24-28 October 2011, the IOPC decided to establish a working group under the chairmanship of Denmark to have a closer look at what ships are covered by the right to be compensated for oil pollution damage.

The International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds, IOPC Funds, consists of three intergovernmental organisations – the 1971 Fund, the 1992 Fund and the Supplementary Fund – which provide compensation for oil pollution damage resulting from spills of persistent oil from tankers.

The working group, which is chaired by Deputy Director-General Birgit Sølling Olsen, is to examine the various interpretations of what ships are covered by the Funds conventions. On this basis, the working group is to look into what consequences the various interpretations have for the compensation coverage and the obligation to contribute to the Fund since only ships defined as “ships” under the conventions can receive compensation. It is expected that the first working group meeting will be held in connection with the next meeting of the IOPC Fund in April 2012.

Among the remaining issues on the agenda of the Assembly were the current claims for compensation. In this connection, good news could be announced in the Erika incident, which has its origins in the loss of the ship Erika off the French coast in 1999. The case is about to be concluded since a global settlement with the parties has been concluded (the owners of the ship, of the oil, the insurance company and the classification society of the ship) with the purpose of avoiding subsequent prolonged lawsuits.

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