Salvors

Originally, when the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 was passed it was only shipowners who were entitled to limit. Following the 1956 Convention, the 1958 Act enlarged the categories of those entitled to limit to ‘anyone with an interest in a ship’, thus widening it to charterers, managers, operators and even the Master. The 1976 Convention throws the net even wider. Under the former legislation, salvors had a hard time. As their operations were special and frequently required their personnel to be either in or under the water or on board the stricken ship, their acts, neglects or defaults very seldom came within one of the old pre-conditions of limiting, which was that it should be in the course of the navigation or management of the ship. Thus salvors, except in rare circumstances, were denied limitation rights. Under Article 1, Section 1 of the 1976 Convention, salvors are now allowed, in their own right, to limit their liability (and not, as previously only in their capacity as shipowners). This is reinforced by the wording of Article 2 (1) (c) which says that: ‘Claims in connection with… salvage operations can be subject to limitation of liability’. Insurers are entitled to limits and this is also contained in Article 1 Section 6 of the 1976 Convention. Section 6 provides that: ‘An insurer of liability for claims subject to limitation in accordance with the rules of this Convention, shall be entitled to the benefits of the Convention to the same extent as the assured himself’.