Shoreline

The entitlement to special compensation is triggered by the vessel itself or her cargo having threatened damage to the environment. There is a distinction between the vessel and her cargo. Article 14 applies whatever the nature of the pollutant, oil cargo, hazardous chemical cargoes and other cargoes capable of pollution and bunkers and slops. It should be borne in mind that pollution damage is also relevant to an Article 13 normal ‘no cure – no pay’ reward. It only matters that damage to the environment is threatened. Under Article 14 (1) the salvor can obtain an award of special compensation where no actual services or benefits have been conferred and the award of special compensation consists only of expenses with no increment. ‘Threat of damage’ seems to convey a wider meaning than ‘danger of damage’ which is a common law requirement of salvage, and under Article 13. One way of approaching this question could be to ask whether there is a realistic possibility of damage to the environment. All the circumstances and facts surrounding the salvage operation should be considered, and factors which could be taken into account are, risk of pollution affecting the shoreline, risk of an explosion causing damage which is prevented by the salvage operation. Pure economic loss to the local population should not be taken into account, nor physical damage to an individual unless there is potential damage to the environment as a whole. The salvor must prove that there is a real risk, not a remote risk, of damage to the environment. What is meant by damage to the environment? This is defined in Article 1 (d) of the 1989 Convention namely ‘substantial physical damage to human health or to marine life or resources in coastal or inland waters or areas adjacent thereto, caused by pollution, contamination, fire, explosion or similar major incidents’. Article 1 (a) is also interesting in that it defines a salvage operation as ‘any act or activity undertaken to assist a vessel or any other property in danger in navigable waters or in any other waters whatsoever’.