Sessions of the Legal Committee

The relevant Sessions of the Legal Committee were going on at the same time as the aviation industry was busy reviewing the Warsaw Convention which covers loss of life or personal injury to airline passengers.  The attention of the IMO Legal Committee was drawn to the fact that the aviation industry was moving towards proposing strict liability on airline operators for death or personal injury to passengers.  The Legal Committee was urged, therefore, at least to move some way towards the position adopted in the aviation industry and to impose a much stricter degree of liability on shipowners than they had been accustomed to under the existing Athens regime. It is impossible at this stage to predict exactly what the final form of the Protocol may be.  However, the IMO Legal Committee is working to a tight schedule to finalise this Protocol.  There is a commitment from the IMO to make funds and time available for a Diplomatic Conference some time in 2002 or 2003 at which the final text of the Protocol will, hopefully, be agreed.  This means that to all intents and purposes the wording of the Protocol must be agreed at the next Session of the Legal Committee which is due to take place in London between October 8th and 12th this year. Where the death or personal injury arises out of a shipping incident (the same definition as in the 1974 Convention) the shipowner will be strictly liable up to a specified limit per passenger.  This limit will not be agreed until the Diplomatic Conference but it is unlikely to be lower than 100,000 SDRs nor higher than 250,000 SDRs.  Additionally the carrier will be liable up to a higher specified limit per passenger unless he can prove the incident which caused the loss occurred without his negligence.  Again the higher limit will not be agreed until the Diplomatic Conference but this is unlikely to be lower than a 175,000 SDRs per passenger nor higher than 500,000 SDR per passenger.