on Salvage, 1989
(London, 28 April 1989)
THE STATES PARTIES TO THE PRESENT CONVENTION,
RECOGNIZING the desirability of determining
by agreement uniform international rules regarding salvage operations,
NOTING that substantial developments,
in particular the increased concern for the protection of the environment,
have demonstrated the need to review the international rules presently
contained in the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law
relating to Assistance and Salvage at Sea, done at Brussels, 23 September
CONSCIOUS of the major contribution
which efficient and timely salvage operations can make to the safety of
vessels and other property in danger and to the protection of the environment,
CONVINCED of the need to ensure that
adequate incentives are available to persons who undertake salvage operations
in respect of vessels and other property in danger,
HAVE AGREED as follows:
For the purpose of this Convention:
(a) "Salvage operation" means any act or activity
undertaken to assist a vessel or any other property in danger in navigable
waters or in any other waters whatsoever.
(b) "Vessel" means any ship or craft, or any
structure capable of navigation.
(c) "Property" means any property not permanently
and intentionally attached to the shoreline and includes freight at risk.
(d) "Damage to the environment" means 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.
(e) "Payment" means any reward, remuneration
or compensation due under this Convention.
(f) "Organization" means the International
(g) "Secretary-General" means the Secretary-General
of the Organization.
Application of the Convention
This Convention shall apply whenever judicial
or arbitral proceedings relating to matters dealt with in this Convention
are brought in a State Party.
Platforms and drilling units
This Convention shall not apply to fixed or
floating platforms or to mobile offshore drilling units when such platforms
or units are on location engaged in the exploration, exploitation or production
of sea-bed mineral resources.
1. Without prejudice to article 5, this Convention
shall not apply to warships or other non-commercial vessels owned or operated
by a State and entitled, at the time of salvage operations, to sovereign
immunity under generally recognized principles of international law unless
that State decides otherwise.
2. Where a State Party decides to apply the
Convention to its warships or other vessels described in paragraph 1, it
shall notify the Secretary-General thereof specifying the terms and conditions
of such application.
Salvage operations controlled by public authorities
1. This Convention shall not affect any provisions
of national law or any international convention relating to salvage operations
by or under the control of public authorities.
2. Nevertheless, salvors carrying out such
salvage operations shall be entitled to avail themselves of the rights
and remedies provided for in this Convention in respect of salvage operations.
3. The extent to which a public authority
under a duty to perform salvage operations may avail itself of the rights
and remedies provided for in this Convention shall be determined by the
law of the State where such authority is situated.
1. This Convention shall apply to any salvage
operations save to the extent that a contract otherwise provides expressly
or by implication.
2. The master shall have the authority to
conclude contracts for salvage operations on behalf of the owner of the
vessel. The master or the owner of the vessel shall have the authority
to conclude such contracts on behalf of the owner of the property on board
3. Nothing in this article shall affect the
application of article 7 nor duties to prevent or minimize damage to the
Annulment and modification of contracts
A contract or any terms thereof may be annulled
or modified if:
(a) the contract has been entered into under
undue influence or the influence of danger and its terms are inequitable;
(b) the payment under the contract is in an
excessive degree too large or too small for the services actually rendered.
PERFORMANCE OF SALVAGE OPERATIONS
Duties of the salvor and of the owner and
1. The salvor shall owe a duty to the owner
of the vessel or other property in danger:
(a) to carry out the salvage operations with
(b) in performing the duty specified in subparagraph
(a), to exercise due care to prevent or minimize damage to the environment;
(c) whenever circumstances reasonably require,
to seek assistance from other salvors; and
(d) to accept the intervention of other salvors
when reasonably requested to do so by the owner or master of the vessel
or other property in danger; provided however that the amount of his reward
shall not be prejudiced should it be found that such a request was unreasonable.
2. The owner and master of the vessel or the
owner of other property in danger shall owe a duty to the salvor:
(a) to co-operate fully with him during the
course of the salvage operations;
(b) in so doing, to exercise due care to prevent
or minimize damage to the environment; and
(c) when the vessel or other property has
been brought to a place of safety, to accept redelivery when reasonably
requested by the salvor to do so.
Rights of coastal States
Nothing in this Convention shall affect the
right of the coastal State concerned to take measures in accordance with
generally recognized principles of international law to protect its coastline
or related interests from pollution or the threat of pollution following
upon a maritime casualty or acts relating to such a casualty which may
reasonably be expected to result in major harmful consequences, including
the right of a coastal State to give directions in relation to salvage
Duty to render assistance
1. Every master is bound, so far as he can
do so without serious danger to his vessel and persons thereon, to render
assistance to any person in danger of being lost at sea.
2. The States Parties shall adopt the measures
necessary to enforce the duty set out in paragraph 1.
3. The owner of the vessel shall incur no
liability for a breach of the duty of the master under paragraph 1.
A State Party shall, whenever regulating or
deciding upon matters relating to salvage operations such as admittance
to ports of vessels in distress or the provision of facilities to salvors,
take into account the need for co-operation between salvors, other interested
parties and public authorities in order to ensure the efficient and successful
performance of salvage operations for the purpose of saving life or property
in danger as well as preventing damage to the environment in general.
RIGHTS OF SALVORS
Conditions for reward
1. Salvage operations which have had a useful
result give right to a reward.
2. Except as otherwise provided, no payment
is due under this Convention if the salvage operations have had no useful
3. This chapter shall apply, notwithstanding
that the salved vessel and the vessel undertaking the salvage operations
belong to the same owner.
Criteria for fixing the reward
1. The reward shall be fixed with a view to
encouraging salvage operations, taking into account the following criteria
without regard to the order in which they are presented below:
(a) the salved value of the vessel and other
(b) the skill and efforts of the salvors in
preventing or minimizing damage to the environment;
(c) the measure of success obtained by the
(d) the nature and degree of the danger;
(e) the skill and efforts of the salvors in
salving the vessel, other property and life;
(f) the time used and expenses and losses
incurred by the salvors;
(g) the risk of liability and other risks
run by the salvors or their equipment;
(h) the promptness of the services rendered;
(i) the availability and use of vessels or
other equipment intended for salvage operations;
(j) the state of readiness and efficiency
of the salvor's equipment and the value thereof.
2. Payment of a reward fixed according to
paragraph 1 shall be made by all of the vessel and other property interests
in proportion to their respective salved values. However, a State Party
may in its national law provide that the payment of a reward has to be
made by one of these interests, subject to a right of recourse of this
interest against the other interests for their respective shares. Nothing
in this article shall prevent any right of defence.
3. The rewards, exclusive of any interest
and recoverable legal costs that may be payable thereon, shall not exceed
the salved value of the vessel and other property.
1. If the salvor has carried out salvage operations
in respect of a vessel which by itself or its cargo threatened damage to
the environment and has failed to earn a reward under article 13 at least
equivalent to the special compensation assessable in accordance with this
article, he shall be entitled to special compensation from the owner of
that vessel equivalent to his expenses as herein defined.
2. If, in the circumstances set out in paragraph
1, the salvor by his salvage operations has prevented or minimized damage
to the environment, the special compensation payable by the owner to the
salvor under paragraph 1 may be increased up to a maximum of 30% of the
expenses incurred by the salvor. However, the tribunal, if it deems it
fair and just to do so and bearing in mind the relevant criteria set out
in article 13, paragraph 1, may increase such special compensation further,
but in no event shall the total increase be more than 100% of the expenses
incurred by the salvor.
3. Salvor's expenses for the purpose of paragraphs
1 and 2 means the out-of-pocket expenses reasonably incurred by the salvor
in the salvage operation and a fair rate for equipment and personnel actually
and reasonably used in the salvage operation, taking into consideration
the criteria set out in article 13, paragraph 1(h), (i) and (j).
4. The total special compensation under this
article shall be paid only if and to the extent that such compensation
is greater than any reward recoverable by the salvor under article 13.
5. If the salvor has been negligent and has
thereby failed to prevent or minimize damage to the environment, he may
be deprived of the whole or part of any special compensation due under
6. Nothing in this article shall affect any
right of recourse on the part of the owner of the vessel.
Apportionment between salvors
1. The apportionment of a reward under article
13 between salvors shall be made on the basis of the criteria contained
in that article.
2. The apportionment between the owner, master
and other persons in the service of each salving vessel shall be determined
by the law of the flag of that vessel. If the salvage has not been carried
out from a vessel, the apportionment shall be determined by the law governing
the contract between the salvor and his servants.
Salvage of persons
1. No remuneration is due from persons whose
lives are saved, but nothing in this article shall affect the provisions
of national law on this subject.
2. A salvor of human life, who has taken part
in the services rendered on the occasion of the accident giving rise to
salvage, is entitled to a fair share of the payment awarded to the salvor
for salving the vessel or other property or preventing or minimizing damage
to the environment.
Services rendered under existing contracts
No payment is due under the provisions of
this Convention unless the services rendered exceed what can be reasonably
considered as due performance of a contract entered into before the danger
The effect of salvor's misconduct
A salvor may be deprived of the whole or part
of the payment due under this Convention to the extent that the salvage
operations have become necessary or more difficult because of fault or
neglect on his part or if the salvor has been guilty of fraud or other
Prohibition of salvage operations
Services rendered notwithstanding the express
and reasonable prohibition of the owner or master of the vessel or the
owner of any other property in danger which is not and has not been on
board the vessel shall not give rise to payment under this Convention.
CLAIMS AND ACTIONS
1. Nothing in this Convention shall affect
the salvor's maritime lien under any international convention or national
2. The salvor may not enforce his maritime
lien when satisfactory security for his claim, including interest and costs,
has been duly tendered or provided.
Duty to provide security
1. Upon the request of the salvor a person
liable for a payment due under this Convention shall provide satisfactory
security for the claim, including interest and costs of the salvor.
2. Without prejudice to paragraph 1, the owner
of the salved vessel shall use his best endeavours to ensure that the owners
of the cargo provide satisfactory security for the claims against them
including interest and costs before the cargo is released.
3. The salved vessel and other property shall
not, without the consent of the salvor, be removed from the port or place
at which they first arrive after the completion of the salvage operations
until satisfactory security has been put up for the salvor's claim against
the relevant vessel or property.
1. The tribunal having jurisdiction over the
claim of the salvor may, by interim decision, order that the salvor shall
be paid on account such amount as seems fair and just, and on such terms
including terms as to security where appropriate, as may be fair and just
according to the circumstances of the case.
2. In the event of an interim payment under
this article the security provided under article 21 shall be reduced accordingly.
Limitation of actions
1. Any action relating to payment under this
Convention shall be time-barred if judicial or arbitral proceedings have
not been instituted within a period of two years. The limitation period
commences on the day on which the salvage operations are terminated.
2. The person against whom a claim is made
at any time during the running of the limitation period extend that period
by a declaration to the claimant. This period may in the like manner be
3. An action for indemnity by a person liable
may be instituted even after the expiration of the limitation period provided
for in the preceding paragraphs, if brought within the time allowed by
the law of the State where proceedings are instituted.
The right of the salvor to interest on any
payment due under this Convention shall be determined according to the
law of the State in which the tribunal seized of the case is situated.
Unless the State owner consents, no provision
of this Convention shall be used as a basis for the seizure, arrest or
detention by any legal process of, nor for any proceedings in rem
against, non-commercial cargoes owned by a State and entitled, at the time
of the salvage operations, to sovereign immunity under generally recognized
principles of international law.
No provision of this Convention shall be used
as a basis for the seizure, arrest or detention of humanitarian cargoes
donated by a State, if such State has agreed to pay for salvage services
rendered in respect of such humanitarian cargoes.
Publication of arbitral awards
States Parties shall encourage, as far as
possible and with the consent of the parties, the publication of arbitral
awards made in salvage cases.
Signature, ratification, acceptance, approval
1. This Convention shall be open for signature
at the Headquarters of the Organization from 1 July 1989 to 30 June 1990
and shall thereafter remain open for accession.
2. States may express their consent to be
bound by this Convention by:
(a) signature without reservation as to ratification,
acceptance or approval; or
(b) signature subject to ratification, acceptance
or approval, followed by ratification, acceptance of approval; or
3. Ratification, acceptance, approval or accession
shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument to that effect with the
Entry into force
1. This Convention shall enter into force
one year after the date on which 15 States have expressed their consent
to be bound by it.
2. For a State which expresses its consent
to be bound by this Convention after the conditions for entry into force
thereof have been met, such consent shall take effect one year after the
date of expression of such consent.
1. Any State may, at the time of signature,
ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, reserve the right not
to apply the provisions of this Convention:
(a) when the salvage operation takes place
in inland waters and all vessels involved are of inland navigation;
(b) when the salvage operations take place
in inland waters and no vessel is involved;
(c) when all interested parties are nationals
of that State;
(d) when the property involved is maritime
cultural property of prehistoric, archaeological or historic interest and
is situated on the sea-bed.
2. Reservations made at the time of signature
are subject to confirmation upon ratification, acceptance or approval.
3. Any State which has made a reservation
to this Convention may withdraw it at any time by means of a notification
addressed to the Secretary-General. Such withdrawal shall take effect on
the date the notification is received. If the notification states that
the withdrawal of a reservation is to take effect on a date specified therein,
and such date is later than the date the notification is received by the
Secretary-General, the withdrawal shall take effect on such later date.
1. This Convention may be denounced by any
State Party at any time after the expiry of one year from the date on which
this Convention enters into force for that State.
2. Denunciation shall be effected by the deposit
of an instrument of denunciation with the Secretary-General.
3. A denunciation shall take effect one year,
or such longer period as may be specified in the instrument of denunciation,
after the receipt of the instrument of denunciation by the Secretary-General.
Revision and amendment
1. A conference for the purpose of revising
or amending this Convention may be convened by the Organization.
2. The Secretary-General shall convene a conference
of the States Parties to this Convention for revising or amending the Convention,
at the request of eight States Parties, or one fourth of the States Parties,
whichever is the higher figure.
3. Any consent to be bound by this Convention
expressed after the date of entry into force of an amendment to this Convention
shall be deemed to apply to the Convention as amended.
1. This Convention shall be deposited with
2. The Secretary-General shall:
(a) inform all States which have signed this
Convention or acceded thereto, and all Members of the Organization, of:
(i) each new signature or deposit of an instrument
of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession together with the date
(ii) the date of the entry into force of this
(iii) the deposit of any instrument of denunciation
of this Convention together with the date on which it received and the
date on which the denunciation takes effect;
(iv) any amendment adopted in conformity with
(v) the receipt of any reservation, declaration
or notification made under this Convention;
(b) transmit certified true copies of this
Convention to all States which have signed this Convention or acceded thereto.
3. As soon as this Convention enters into
force, a certified true copy thereof shall be transmitted by the Depositary
to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for registration and publication
in accordance with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.
This Convention is established in a single
original in the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish languages,
each text being equally authentic.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned
being duly authorized by their respective Governments for that purpose
have signed this Convention.
DONE AT LONDON this twenty-eighth day
of April one thousand nine hundred and eighty-nine.