Athens

Article 19 of the Athens Convention does provide that ‘this Convention shall not modify the rights or duties of the carrier, the performing carrier, and their servants or agents provided for in the International Conventions relating to the limitation of liability of owners of seagoing ships’. Also, Article 12 of Schedule 6 to the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 provides that nothing in the Athens Convention affects the operation of section 185 of the 1995 Act. Article 13 says that nothing in section 186 shall relieve a person of any liability imposed on him by the Convention. It seems that the carrier may be able to rely on the lower limitation figure in the 1976 Convention. Article 6 (5) lays down the basis of calculation of limitation tonnage. There is a noticeable difference between calculations under the 1957 Convention (and indeed also in the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 Section 503) whereby the tonnage of a vessel for limitation purposes was the ‘registered tonnage’ and under the 1976 Convention whereby the tonnage of a vessel for limitation purposes is now the ‘gross tonnage’. This is calculated in accordance with the appropriate tonnage measurement rules contained in the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships 1969. Under these regulations every ship is given a gross tonnage and a net tonnage. The purpose of a net tonnage is to give people an approximate idea of the ship’s earning capacity. The gross tonnage represents the actual size of the ship in physical terms. The United Kingdom adopted the 1969 Convention in 1982 by the Merchant Shipping (Tonnage) Regulations 1982. This meant that the United Kingdom law from that point of time on required that all United Kingdom registered vessels exceeding 24 metres in length which are new and also any older vessels which had been modified so as to substantially alter their previous gross tonnage, are to be measured in accordance with the new regulations.