Convention

The International Convention on Salvage was adopted on 28th April 1989 by a Conference convened under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation. It came into force one year later after the required 15 states had expressed their consent to be bound by it . The Convention deals with a number of matters – its most important aims are to revise the law relating to the provisions of salvage services so as to provide better protection to the environment and to encourage salvors to undertake salvage operations in respect of vessels and other property in danger. As such, the Convention should be welcomed by both ecological and salvage industry interests alike. Article 12 maintained the basic principle that, except as otherwise provided, no payment is due to salvors if the salvage operations have had no useful result. Article 13 deals with the general principles of a salvor’s remuneration and Article 14 provides for special compensation in the case of a salvage operation which protects the environment. The salvor shall be entitled to ‘special compensation’ where he has carried out salvage operations in respect of a vessel in circumstances where a vessel or its cargo threatened damage to the environment and he has not managed to earn a reward under Article 13 which is ‘at least equivalent to the special compensation assessable in accordance with this Article’. The basic definition of special compensation is limited to the salvor’s reasonably incurred out of pocket expenses and a fair rate for equipment and personnel actually used. Under Article 13 the salvor’s reward is to be fixed ‘with a view to encouraging salvage operations’. Nevertheless, although a salvor is, under the Convention, entitled to have his efforts in protecting the environment taken into account in assessing his remuneration, this is still subject to the ‘no cure – no pay’ principle set out in Article 12, and also the provision in Article 13.3 that the reward should not exceed the salved value of the vessel and other property. Thus, although the compensation would therefore in most cases avoid the salvor losing money by undertaking the salvage, it still provides little incentive for him to undertake it in the first place. It is therefore provided in Article 14 (2) that his special compensation may be increased up to a maximum of 30%, provided always that the salvage operation has prevented or minimised damage to the environment.