Convention for the Unification
of Certain Rules of Law respecting Assistance and Salvage at Sea
(Brussels, 23 September 1910)
His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas,
Emperor of India; His Majesty the German Emperor, King of Prussia, in the
name of the German Empire; the President of the Argentine Republic; His
Majesty the Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, etc, and Apostolic King
of Hungary, for Austria and Hungary; His Majesty the King of the Belgians;
the President of the United States of Brazil; the President of the Republic
of Chile; the President of the Republic of Cuba; His Majesty the King of
Denmark; His Majesty the King of Spain; the President of the United States
of America; the President of the French Republic; His Majesty the King
of the Hellenes; His Majesty the King of Italy; His Majesty the Emperor
of Japan; the President of the United States of Mexico; the President of
the Republic of Nicaragua; His Majesty the King of Norway, Her Majesty
the Queen of the Netherlands; His Majesty the King of Portugal and the
Algarves; His Majesty the King of Roumania; His Majesty the Emperor of
All the Russias; His Majesty the King of Sweden; the President of the Republic
HAVING RECOGNISED the desirability
of determining by agreement certain uniform rules of law respecting assistance
and salvage at sea, have decided to conclude a Convention to that end,
and have appointed as their plenipotentiaries, that is to say:
Who, having been duly authorised to that effect,
have agreed as follows:
Assistance and salvage of seagoing vessels
in danger, of any things on board, of freight and passage money, and also
services of the same nature rendered by sea-going vessels to vessels of
inland navigation or vice versa, are subject to the following provisions,
without any distinction being drawn between these two kinds of service
[viz, assistance and salvage], and in whatever waters the services have
Every act of assistance or salvage of which
has had a useful result gives a right to equitable remuneration.
No remuneration is due if the services rendered
have no beneficial result.
In no case shall the sum to be paid exceed
the value of the property salved.
Persons who have taken part in salvage operations
notwithstanding the express and reasonable prohibition on the part of the
vessel to which the services were rendered, have no right to any remuneration.
A tug has no right to remuneration for assistance
to or salvage of the vessel she is towing or of the vessel's cargo, except
where she has rendered exceptional services which cannot be considered
as rendered in fulfilment of the contract of towage.
Remuneration is due notwithstanding that the
salvage services have been rendered by or to vessels belonging to the same
The amount of remuneration is fixed by agreement
between the parties, and, failing agreement, by the court.
The proportion in which the remuneration is
to be distributed amongst the salvors is fixed in the same manner.
The apportionment of the remuneration amongst
the owner, master and other persons in the service of each salving vessel
shall be determined by the law of the vessel's flag.
Every agreement as to assistance or salvage
entered into at the moment and under the influence of danger may, at the
request of either party, be annulled or modified by the court, if it considers
that the conditions agreed upon are not equitable.
In all cases, when it is proved that the consent
of one of the parties is vitiated by fraud or concealment, or when the
remuneration is, in proportion to the services rendered, in an excessive
degree too large or too small, the agreement may be annulled or modified
by the court at the request of the party affected.
The remuneration is fixed by the court according
to the circumstances of each case, on the basis of the following considerations:
(a) firstly, the measure of success obtained, the efforts and deserts of
the salvors, the danger run by the salved vessel, by her passengers, crew
and cargo, by the salvors, and by the salving vessel; the time expended,
the expenses incurred and losses suffered, and the risks of liability and
other risks run by the salvors, and also the value of the property exposed
to such risks, due regard being had to the special appropriation (if any)
of the salvors' vessel for salvage purposes; (b) secondly, the value of
the property salved.
The same considerations apply for the purpose
of fixing the apportionment provided for by the second paragraph of Article
The court may deprive the salvors of all remuneration,
or may award a reduced remuneration, if it appears that the salvors have
by their fault rendered the salvage or assistance necessary or have been
guilty of theft, fraudulent concealment, or other acts of fraud.
No remuneration is due from persons whose
lives are saved, but nothing in this Article shall affect the provisions
of the national laws on this subject.
Salvors of human life, who have taken part
in the services rendered on the occasion of the accident giving rise to
salvage or assistance, are entitled to a fair share of the remuneration
awarded to the salvors of the vessel, her cargo, and accessories.
A salvage action is barred after an interval
of two years from the day on which the operations of assistance or salvage
The grounds upon which the said period of
limitation may be suspended or interrupted are determined by the law of
the court where the case is tried.
The High Contracting Parties reserve to themselves
the right to provide, by legislation in their respective countries, that
the said period shall be extended in cases where it has not been possible
to arrest the vessel assisted or salved in the territorial waters of the
State in which the plaintiff has his domicile or principal place of business.
Every master is bound, so far as he can do
so without serious danger to his vessel, her crew and her passengers, to
render assistance to everybody, even though an enemy, found at sea in danger
of being lost.
The owner of a vessel incurs no liability
by reason of contravention of the above provision.
The High Contracting Parties, whose legislation
does not forbid infringements of the preceding Article, bind themselves
to take or to propose to their respective legislatures the measures necessary
for the prevention of such infringements.
The High Contracting Parties will communicate
to one another as soon as possible the laws or regulations which have already
been or may be hereafter promulgated in their States for giving effect
to the above provision.
This Convention does not affect the provisions
of national laws or international treaties as regards the organisation
of services of assistance and salvage by or under the control of public
authorities, nor, in particular, does it affect such laws or treaties on
the subject of the salvage of fishing gear.
This Convention does not apply to ships of
war or to Government ships appropriated exclusively to a public service.
The provisions of this Convention shall be
applied as regards all persons interested when either the assisting or
salving vessel or the vessel assisted or salved belongs to a State of the
High Contracting Parties, as well as in any other cases for which the national
Provided always that:
1. As regards persons interested who belong
to a non-contracting State the application of the above provisions may
be made by each of the contracting States conditional upon reciprocity.
2. Where all the persons interested belong
to the same State as the court trying the case, the provisions of the national
law and not of the Convention are applicable.
3. Without prejudice to any wider provisions
of any national laws, Article 11 only applies as between vessels belonging
to the States of the High Contracting Parties.
Any one of the High Contracting Parties shall
have the right, three years after this Convention comes into force, to
call for a fresh conference with a view to possible amendments, and particularly
with a view to extend, if possible, the sphere of its application.
Any Power exercising this right must notify
its intention to the other Powers, through the Belgian Government, which
will make arrangements for convening the conference within six months.
States which have not signed the present Convention
are allowed to accede to it at their request. Such accession shall be notified
through the diplomatic channel to the Belgian Government, and by the latter
to each of the Governments of the other Contracting Parties; it shall become
effective one month after the despatch of such notification by the Belgian
The present Convention shall be ratified.
After an interval of at most one year from
the date on which the Convention is signed, the Belgian Government shall
place itself in communication with the Governments of the High Contracting
Parties which have declared themselves prepared to ratify the Convention,
with a view to decide whether it should be put into force.
The ratifications shall, if so decided, be
deposited forthwith at Brussels, and the Convention shall come into force
a month after such deposit.
The Protocol shall remain open another year
in favour of the States represented at the Brussels Conference. After this
interval they can only accede to it in conformity with the provisions of
In the case of one or other of the High Contracting
Parties denouncing this Convention, such denunciation shall not take effect
until a year after the day on which it has been notified to the Belgian
Government, and the Convention shall remain in force as between the other
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the plenipotentiaries
of the respective High Contracting Parties have signed this Convention
and have affixed thereto their seals.
DONE at Brussels, in a single copy,
September 23rd, 1910.