The CPMR was an observer at the IOPC (International oil Pollution Compensation) Funds meeting, on 17th October, in London. During the meeting, it presented a proposal for discussion on setting up a new fund within IOPC for compensating environmental damage caused by oil spills. This proposal was presented by Jonathan Wills, Independent Councillor, Shetland Islands Council, representing CPMR on this occasion.
The CPMR recommended that reflection on a new fund should take place as an answer to legal uncertainties resulting from decisions taken in January 2016 and September 2012 by Spanish and French courts in the Prestige and Erika cases.
In their rulings, Spanish and French Courts gave recognition to ecological damage thanks to an interpretation of CLC/IOPC conventions that excluded their application. The consequence is that national rules, and not those of the CLC/IOPC conventions, are applied to define environmental damage and the compensation for it. In the future, national courts from other countries than Spain and France might follow the same interpretation. This generates legal uncertainty for shipping companies as well as for insurers, which are not covered by the same rules from one country to another.
The establishment of a voluntary supplementary fund within IOPC could make it possible to establish a definition and compensation rules that would be the same in all countries.
In London, several national delegations and observer organisations representing the insurance and shipping sectors expressed their concerns about the impact of the national jurisdiction judgements on legal certainty. The CPMR will continue discussions with delegations to the IOPC and to the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) on this matter.