International Convention on Civil Liability for
Oil Pollution Damage
(Brussels, 29 November 1969)
THE STATES PARTIES TO THE PRESENT CONVENTION,
CONSCIOUS of the dangers of pollution posed by the worldwide
maritime carriage of oil in bulk,
CONVINCED of the need to ensure that adequate compensation is
available to persons who suffer damage caused by pollution resulting from
the escape or discharge of oil from ships,
DESIRING to adopt uniform international rules and procedures
for determining questions of liability and providing adequate compensation
in such cases,
HAVE AGREED as follows:
For the purposes of this Convention:
1. "Ships" means any sea-going vessel and any seaborn craft of any type
whatsoever, actually carrying oil in bulk as cargo.
2. "Person" means any individual or partnership or any public or private
body, whether corporate or not, including a State or any of its constituent
3. "Owner" means the person or persons registered as the owner of the
ship or, in the absence of registration, the person or persons owning the
ship. However in the case of a ship owned by a State and operated by a
company which in that State is registered as the ship's operator, "owner"
shall mean such company.
4. "State of the ship's registry" means in relation to registered ships
the State of registration of the ship, and in relation to unregistered
ships the State whose flag the ship is flying.
5. "Oil" means any persistent oil such as crude oil, fuel oil, heavy
diesel oil, lubricating oil and whale oil, whether carried on board a ship
as cargo or in the bunkers of such a ship.
6. "Pollution damage" means loss or damage caused outside the ship carrying
oil by contamination resulting from the escape or discharge of oil from
the ship, wherever such escape or discharge may occur, and includes the
costs of preventive measures and further loss or damage caused by preventive
7. "Preventive measures" means any reasonable measures taken by any
person after an incident has occurred to prevent or minimize pollution
8. "Incident" means any occurrence, or series of occurrences having
the same origin, which causes pollution damage.
9. "Organization" means the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative
This Convention shall apply exclusively to pollution damage caused on
the territory including the territorial sea of a Contracting State and
to preventive measures taken to prevent or minimize such damage.
1. Except as provided in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article, the owner
of a ship at the time of an incident, or where the incident consists of
a series of occurrences at the time of the first such occurrence, shall
be liable for any pollution damage caused by oil which has escaped or been
discharged from the ship as a result of the incident.
2. No liability for pollution damage shall attach to the owner if he
proves that the damage:
(a) resulted from an act of war, hostilities, civil war, insurrection
or a natural phenomenon of an exceptional, inevitable and irresistible
(b) was wholly caused by an act or omission done with intent to cause
damage by a third party, or
(c) was wholly caused by the negligence or other wrongful act of any
Government or other authority responsible for the maintenance of lights
or other navigational aids in the exercise of that function.
3. If the owner proves that the pollution damage resulted wholly or
partially either from an act or omission done with intent to cause damage
by the person who suffered the damage or from the negligence of that person,
the owner may be exonerated wholly or partially from his liability to such
4. No claim for compensation for pollution damage shall be made against
the owner otherwise than in accordance with this Convention. No claim for
pollution damage under this Convention or otherwise may be made against
the servants or agents of the owner.
5. Nothing in this Convention shall prejudice any right of recourse
of the owner against third parties.
When oil has escaped or has been discharged from two or more ships,
and pollution damage results therefrom, the owners of all the ships concerned,
unless exonerated under Article III, shall be jointly and severally liable
for all such damage which is not reasonably separable.
1. The owner of a ship shall be entitled to limit his liability under
this Convention in respect of any one incident to an aggregate amount of
2,000 francs for each ton of the ship's tonnage. However, this aggregate
amount shall not in any event exceed 210 million francs.
2. If the incident occurred as a result of the actual fault or privity
of the owner, he shall not be entitled to avail himself of the limitation
provided in paragraph 1 of this Article.
3. For the purpose of availing himself of the benefit of limitation
provided for in paragraph 1 of this Article the owner shall constitute
a fund for the total sum representing the limit of his liability with the
Court or other competent authority of any one of the Contracting States
in which action is brought under Article IX. The fund can be constituted
either by depositing the sum or by producing a bank guarantee or other
guarantee, acceptable under the legislation of the Contracting State where
the fund is constituted, and considered to be adequate by the Court or
another competent authority.
4. The fund shall be distributed among the claimants in proportion to
the amounts of their established claims.
5. If before the fund is distributed the owner or any of his servants
or agents or any person providing him insurance or other financial security
has as a result of the incident in question, paid compensation for pollution
damage, such person shall, up to the amount he has paid, acquire by subrogation
the rights which the person so compensated would have enjoyed under this
6. The right of subrogation provided for in paragraph 5 of this Article
may also be exercised by a person other than those mentioned therein in
respect of any amount of compensation for pollution damage which he may
have paid by only to the extent that such subrogation is permitted under
the applicable national law.
7. Where the owner or any other person establishes that he may be compelled
to pay at a later date in whole or in part any such amount of compensation,
with regard to which such person would have enjoyed a right of subrogation
under paragraphs 5 or 6 of this Article, had the compensation been paid
before the fund was distributed, the Court or other competent authority
of the State where the fund has been constituted may order that a sufficient
sum shall be provisionally set aside to enable such person at such later
date to enforce his claim against the fund.
8. Claims in respect of expenses reasonably incurred or sacrifices reasonably
made by the owner voluntarily to prevent or minimize pollution damage shall
rank equally with other claims against the fund.
9. The franc mentioned in this Article shall be a unit consisting of
sixty-five and a half milligrams of gold of millesimal fineness nine hundred.
The amount mentioned in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be converted
into the national currency of the State in which the fund is being constituted
on the basis of the official value of that currency by reference to the
unit defined above on the date of the constitution of the fund.
10. For the purpose of this Article the ship's tonnage shall be the
net tonnage of the ship with the addition of the amount deducted from the
gross tonnage on account of engine room space for the purpose of ascertaining
the net tonnage. In the case of a ship which cannot be measured in accordance
with the normal rules of tonnage measurement, the ship's tonnage shall
be deemed to be 40 per cent of the weight in tons (of 2240 lbs) of oil
which the ship is capable of carrying.
11. the insurer or other person providing financial security shall be
entitled to constitute a fund in accordance with this Article on the same
conditions and having the same effect as if it were constituted by the
owner. Such a fund may be constituted even in the event of the actual fault
or privity of the owner but its constitution shall in that case not prejudice
the rights of any claimant against the owner.
1. Where the owner, after an incident, has constituted a fund in accordance
with Article V, and is entitled to limit his liability,
(a) no person having a claim for pollution damage arising out of that
incident shall be entitled to exercise any right against any other assets
of the owner in respect of such claim;
(b) the Court or other competent authority of any Contracting State
shall order the release of any ship or other property belonging to the
owner which has been arrested in respect of a claim for pollution damage
arising out of that incident, and shall similarly release any bail or other
security furnished to avoid such arrest.
2. The foregoing shall, however, only apply if the claimant has access
to the Court administering the fund and the fund is actually available
in respect of his claim.
1. The owner of a ship registered in a Contracting State and carrying
more than 2,000 tons of oil in bulk as cargo shall be required to maintain
insurance or other financial security, such as the guarantee of a bank
or a certificate delivered by an international compensation fund, in the
sums fixed by applying the limits of liability prescribed in Article V,
paragraph 1 to cover his liability for pollution damage under this Convention.
2. A certificate attesting that insurance or other financial security
is in force in accordance with the provisions of this Convention shall
be issued to each ship. It shall be issued or certified by the appropriate
authority of the State of the ship's registry after determining that the
requirements of paragraph 1 of this Article have been complied with. The
certificate shall be in the form of the annexed model and shall contain
the following particulars:
(a) name of ship and port of registration;
(b) name and principal place of business of owner;
(c) type of security;
(d) name and principal place of business of insurer or other person
giving security and, where appropriate, place of business where the insurance
or security is established;
(e) period of validity of certificate which shall not be longer than
the period of validity of the insurance or other security.
3. The certificate shall be in the official language or languages of
the issuing State. If the language used is neither English nor French,
the text shall include a translation into one of these languages.
4. The certificate shall be carried on board the ship and a copy shall
be deposited with the authorities who keep the record of the ship's registry.
5. An insurance or other financial security shall not satisfy the requirements
of this Article if it can cease, for reasons other than the expiry of the
period of validity of the insurance or security specified in the certificate
under paragraph 2 of this Article, before three months have elapsed from
the date on which notice of its termination is given to the authorities
referred to in paragraph 4 of this Article, unless the certificate has
been surrendered to these authorities or a new certificate has been issued
within the said period. The foregoing provision shall similarly apply to
any modification which results in the insurance or security no longer satisfying
the requirements of this Article.
6. The State of registry shall, subject to the provisions of this Article,
determine the conditions of issue and validity of the certificate.
7. Certificates issued or certified under the authority of a Contracting
State shall be accepted by other Contracting States for the purposes of
this Convention and shall be regarded by other Contracting States as having
the same force as certificates issued or certified by them. A Contracting
State may at any time request consultation with the State of a ship's registry
should it believe that the insurer or guarantor named in the certificate
is not financially capable of meeting the obligations imposed by this Convention.
8. Any claim for compensation for pollution damage may be brought directly
against the insurer or other person providing financial security for the
owner's liability for pollution damage. In such case the defendant may,
irrespective of the actual fault or privity of the owner, avail himself
of the limits of liability prescribed in Article V, paragraph 1. He may
further avail himself of the defences (other than the bankruptcy or winding
up of the owner) which the owner himself would have been entitled to invoke.
Furthermore, the defendant may avail himself of the defence that the pollution
damage resulted from the wilful misconduct of the owner himself, but the
defendant shall not avail himself of any other defence which he might have
been entitled to invoke in proceedings brought by the owner against him.
The defendant shall in any event have the right to require the owner to
be joined in the proceedings.
9. Any sum provided by insurance or by other financial security maintained
in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article shall be available exclusively
for the satisfaction of claims under this Convention.
10. A Contracting State shall not permit a ship under its flag to which
this Article applies to trade unless a certificate has been issued under
paragraph 2 or 12 of this Article.
11. Subject to the provisions of this Article, each Contracting State
shall ensure, under its national legislation, that insurance or other security
to the extent specified in paragraph 1 of this Article is in force in respect
of any ship, wherever registered, entering or leaving a port in its territory,
or arriving at or leaving an off-shore terminal in its territorial sea,
if the ship actually carries more than 2,000 tons of oil in bulk as cargo.
12. If insurance or other financial security is not maintained in respect
of a ship owned by a Contracting State, the provisions of this Article
relating thereto shall not be applicable to such ship, but the ship shall
carry a certificate issued by the appropriate authorities of the State
of the ship's registry stating that the ship is owned by that State and
that the ship's liability is covered within the limits prescribed by Article
V, paragraph 1. Such a certificate shall follow as closely as practicable
the model prescribed by paragraph 2 of this Article.
Rights of compensation under this Convention shall be extinguished unless
an action is brought thereunder within three years from the date when the
damage occurred. However, in no case shall an action be brought after six
years from the date of the incident which caused the damage. Where this
incident consists of a series of occurrences, the six years' period shall
run from the date of the first such occurrence.
1. Where an incident has caused pollution damage in the territory including
the territorial sea of one or more Contracting States, or preventive measures
have been taken to prevent or minimize pollution damage in such territory
including the territorial sea, actions for compensation may only be brought
in the Courts of any such Contracting State or States. Reasonable notice
of any such action shall be given to the defendant.
2. Each Contracting State shall ensure that its Court s possess the
necessary jurisdiction to entertain such actions for compensation.
3. After the fund has been constituted in accordance with Article V
the Courts of the State in which the fund is constituted shall be exclusively
competent to determine all matters relating to the apportionment and distribution
of the fund.
1. Any judgment given by a Court with jurisdiction in accordance with
Article IX which is enforceable in the State of origin where it is no longer
subject to ordinary forms of review, shall be recognized in any Contracting
(a) where the judgment was obtained by fraud; or
(b) where the defendant was not given reasonable notice and a fair opportunity
to present his case.
2. A judgment recognized under paragraph 1 of this Article shall be
enforceable in each Contracting State as soon as the formalities required
in the State have been complied with. The formalities shall not permit
the merits of the case to be re-opened.
1. The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to warships or
other ships owned or operated by a State and used, for the time being,
only on government non-commercial service.
2. With respect to ships owned by a Contracting State and used for commercial
purposes, each State shall be subject to suit in the jurisdictions set
forth in Article IX and shall waive all defences based on its status as
a sovereign State.
This Convention shall supersede any International Conventions in force
or open for signature, ratification or accession at the date on which the
Convention is opened for signature, but only to the extent that such Conventions
would be in conflict with it; however, nothing in this Article shall affect
the obligations of Contracting States to non-Contracting States arising
under such International Conventions.
1. The present Convention shall remain open for signature until 31 December
1970 and shall thereafter remain open for accession.
2. States Members of the United Nations or any of the Specialized Agencies
or of the International Atomic Energy Agency or Parties to the Statute
of the International Court of Justice may become Parties to this Convention
(a) signature without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or
(b) signature subject to ratification, acceptance or approval followed
by ratification, acceptance or approval; or
1. Ratification, acceptance, approval or accession shall be effected
by the deposit of a formal instrument to that effect with the Secretary-General
of the Organization.
2. Any instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession
deposited after the entry into force of an amendment to the present Convention
with respect to all existing Contracting States, or after the completion
of all measures required for the entry into force of the amendment with
respect to those Contracting States shall be deemed to apply to the Convention
as modified by the amendment.
1. The present Convention shall enter into force on the ninetieth day
following the date on which Governments of eight States including five
States each with not less than 1,000,000 gross tons of tanker tonnage have
either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or
approval or have deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance approval
or accession with the Secretary-General of the Organization.
2. For each State which subsequently ratifies, accepts, approves or
accedes to it the present Convention shall come into force on the ninetieth
day after deposit by such State of the appropriate instrument.
1. The present Convention may be denounced by any Contracting State
at any time after the date on which the Convention comes into force for
2. Denunciation shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument with
the Secretary-General of the Organization.
3. A denunciation shall take effect one year, or such longer period
as may be specified in the instrument of denunciation, after its deposit
with the Secretary-General of the Organization.
1. The United Nations, where it is the administering authority for a
territory, or any Contracting State responsible for the international relations
of a territory, shall as soon as possible consult with the appropriate
authorities of such territory or take such other measures as may be appropriate,
in order to extend the present Convention to that territory and may at
any time by notification in writing to the Secretary-General of the Organization
declare that the present Convention shall extend to such territory.
2. The present Convention shall, from the date of receipt of the notification
of from such other date as may be specified in the notification, extend
to the territory named therein.
3. The United Nations, or any Contracting State which has made a declaration
under paragraph 1 of this Article may at any time after the date on which
the Convention has been so extended to any territory declare by notification
in writing to the Secretary-General of the Organization that the present
Convention shall cease to extend to any such territory named in the notification.
4. The present Convention shall cease to extend to any territory mentioned
in such notification one year, or such longer period as may be specified
therein, after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary-General
of the Organization.
1. A Conference for the purpose of revising or amending the present
Convention may be convened by the Organization.
2. The Organization shall convene a Conference of the Contracting States
for revising or amending the present Convention at the request of not less
than one-third of the Contracting States.
1. The present Convention shall be deposited with the Secretary-General
of the Organization.
2. The Secretary-General of the Organization shall:
(a) inform all States which have signed or acceded to the Convention
(i) each new signature or deposit of instrument together with the date
(ii) the deposit of any instrument of denunciation of this Convention
together with the date of the deposit;
(iii) the extension of the present Convention to any territory under
paragraph 1 of Article XVII and of the termination of any such extension
under the provisions of paragraph 4 of that Article stating in each case
the date on which the present Convention has been or will cease to be so
(b) transmit certified true copies of the present Convention to all
Signatory States and to all States which accede to the present Convention.
As soon as the present Convention comes into force, the text shall be
transmitted by the Secretary-General of the Organization to the Secretariat
of the United Nations for registration and publication in accordance with
Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.
The present Convention is established in a single copy in the English
and French languages, both texts being equally authentic. Official translations
in the Russian and Spanish languages shall be prepared and deposited with
the signed original.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned being duly authorized by their
respective Governments for that purpose have signed the present Convention.
DONE at Brussels this twenty-ninth day of November 1969.
CERTIFICATE OF INSURANCE OR OTHER FINANCIAL SECURITY IN RESPECT OF CIVIL
LIABILITY FOR OIL POLLUTION DAMAGE
Issued in accordance with the provisions of Article VII of the International
Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1969.
|Name of ship
Distinctive number or letters
Port of registry
Name and address of owner
This is to certify that there is in force in respect of the above-named
ship a policy of insurance or other financial security satisfying the requirements
of Article VII of the International convention on civil Liability for Oil
Pollution Damage, 1969.
Type of Security
Duration of Security
Name and Address of the Insurer(s) and/or Guarantor(s)
This certificate is valid until
Issued or certified by the Government of
(Full designation of the State)
Signature and Title of issuing or certifying official.
1. If desired, the designation of the State may include a reference
to the competent public authority of the country where the certificate
2. If the total amount of security has been furnished by more than one
source, the amount of each of them should be indicated.
3. If security is furnished in several forms, these should be enumerated.
4. The entry "Duration of Security" must stipulate the date on which
such security takes effect. [Explanatory Notes appeared in original text.]