Punitive damages is a quasi-punishment that aims at prevention. It is not known under European law. They are awarded in exceptional circumstances. Its purpose is to punish the perpetrator of an insidious and intentional illegal action. The author describes the story of the tanker Exxon Valdez, which struck rocks off the coast of Alaska on 23 March 1989. The captain Joseph Hazelwood was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. Because of the resultant pollution thousands offishermen applied for compensation, as did the owners of businesses connected with the maritime environment and of shoreline real estate. Exxon Shipping reached many settlements with plaintiffs, but thirtytwo thousand fishermen and owners of shoreline property rejected settlements, and sued Exxon demanding indemnity and the imposition of punitive damages. On 16 September 1994 a jury imposed punitive damages to the sum five thousand million dollars along with an indemnity of 507.5 million dollars. On appeal the quasi punishment was reduced to 4.5 thousand million dollars. The Appeal Court fixed punitive damages at 2.5 thousand million dollars. Both sides appealed to the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court considered whether the punitive damages imposed on Exxon were consistent with the principles of maritime law. On 25 June 2008 it finally determined that in cases similar to that of Exxon Shipping the relation of punitive damages to indemnity should be 1:1, and reduced 2.5 thousand million dollars to 507.5 million dollars, which was the indemnity awarded to the plaintiffs.
For a long period of time, EU policy regarding petroleum pollution was based on supporting projects undertaken on the international forum and to encourage member states to ratify conventions put forward by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The catastrophe of the tanker Erika, which was sailing under the Maltese flag, indicated that these measures were insufficient. On March 21, 2000, the European Commission introduced a set of legal proposals that was known commonly as the ERIKA I packet. These regulations came into force in June 2003. The European Commission introduced the ERIKA II packet in December 2000, but it met with only partial approval from member states. In accordance with earlier announcements, the ERIKA III packet was introduced on November 23, 2005. This is the subsequent step in creating “a defense mechanism to defend Europe from accidents at sea and from environmental pollution". None of seven proposals has yet to be accepted. The three ERIKA packages comprise a multifaceted response from the EU regarding the growing threat of petroleum pollution.
Today there are two separate regimes of liability for oil pollution damage: the international regime, which is based on multilateral conventions, and the autonomous United States regime. After the US Administration’s decision to withdraw from the international system (1989), the US Congress enacted the 1990 Oil Pollution Act (OPA). This piece of legislation was passed in the aura of public demand for stringent regulation of oil pollution damage to marine environment. The OPA allows states to enact laws that would furnish greater protection to the injured parties than federal law. The US is a known critic of the international regime due to its low liability limits and exclusion of environmental damage. Accordingly, there are numerous differences between the US regime and the international one. The OPA has a wider scope as it covers also oil spilled from facilities and bunker oilspills. Furthermore, the US legislation offers superior protection to the injured as it adopts a wider definition of oil pollution damage. Thus, the Author argues, the OPA embodies the polluter pays principle (PPP) to a greater extent than the international system
In 1999 tanker Erica, flying Maltese flag, sank in French exclusive economic zone, spilling 20 000 tones of oil into the sea and polluting 400 km of French shore. In 2008 French court held the defendants liable for reckless negligence in criminal proceedings, with appellate and cassation courts ruling in 2010 and 2012 respectively. The author discusses those judgments. The courts have considered the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (1992), the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (1971) and French Law No. 83‒583 of 5 July 1983. The rulings have met considerable criticism with respect to issues of French jurisdiction and channelling of liability. It was argued that criminal courts cannot give verdicts on civil liability for oil pollution damage. The article also covers classification societies’ liability for certifying ship’s seaworthiness.
On 23 April 2014 the 2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by the Sea (PAL 2002) entered into force. The purpose of the Protocol is to improve legal standing of the passenger. The author discusses legislative options as to the future shape of Articles 181 and 182 of the Maritime Code if PAL 2002 is to be ratified by Poland. The first option is to make the 2002 Athens Convention control domestic carriage of passengers, which currently remains outside of the scope of Regulation (EC) No 329/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents, and to exclude compulsory insurance or other financial security within limits prescribed by the Convention. The second option is to apply the Convention liability mechanism to carriage by Class C, Class D and Class B vessels.
The article looks into a recently developed concept of international interest which is intended as a replacement for traditional securities such as ship mortgages and maritime liens. The regulation is being introduced by Cape Town Convention on International Interest in Mobile Equipment together with one of the protocols. The Cape Town Treaty has been welcomed by 60 signatures, including the European Union and the United States, and it has already proven itself in the aircraft industry. The author discusses the Cape Town Treaty’s chances for wider adoption against the backdrop of the 1926 Brussels Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages, the 1967 Brussels International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to Maritime Liens and Mortgages and the 1993 Geneva International Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages.
This article aims to discuss the notion of environmental damage under the CLC 1992 and FUND 1992 as stated in the new Guidelines for Presenting Claims for Environmental Damage prepared by the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds. That approach is contrasted with the solution adopted in the United States of America under the OPA. Particular attention is given to the problems of compensation for lost services of the environment, as well as providing alternative environment as a restoration measure. The judgments of French and Spanish courts in the Erika and Prestige cases are discussed, raising questions as to suitability of the CLC 1992/FUND 1992 system.
Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks came into force on 14th April 2015 and has been ratified by now by over 40 states across the world (among them Australia, China, India, South Africa and most of the EU countries). The convention provides legal framework for action taken by the Coastal States aiming at removal of wrecks posing danger or impediment to navigation, as well as to the marine environment, or damage to the coastline or related interests of one or more States. The Convention fills the existing legal gap by enabling the States to remove wrecks beyond their territories (as well as within if States decide so). Beside the existing international regulations like Intervention Convention or UNCLOS, the Nairobi Convention clarifies the Costal State’s rights to remove wrecks from its EEZ if they pose a danger for safe navigation or marine environment. The Convention corresponds with mentioned conventions but also equips Coastal States with new legal instruments to deal with hazardous wrecks beyond their territory. The aim of the paper is to analyse the new rights and duties of states, as well as scope of the notion of navigational and environmental threats causes by wrecks. It will refer also to regulatory problems faced by the states implementing the Convention. Even if the Convention is to be applied to territorial sea, its multiple provisions are not. Moreover, the Convention leaves many important aspects unregulated. Those issues will be analysed from the perspective of a country which has not yet ratified the Convention, and will be confronted with the experience from other jurisdictions.