In addition, a detailed study of the Erika case reveals some of the rationale for several of the persistent capabilities of marine pollution liability regimes. Payments of compensation and the administrative costs of the 1971 IOPC Fund had been financed by contributions levied on companies in Fund Convention countries that received crude oil and heavy fuel oil after sea transport. The tanker owner is normally entitled to limit his liability to an amount which is linked to the tonnage of the tanker causing the pollution.
Secondly, if, for instance, the ship is bareboat chartered and pursuant to the charter party the owner is liable for bunker oil pollution damage — which would make sense, given that the owner is essential to retain insurance coverage or other monetary safety to cover liability for pollution damage — claimants would nonetheless be entitled to bring a claim against the bareboat charterer, who apparently 17 is not necessary to preserve insurance or economic security.
The ship-owner’s liability can only be exonerated if he proves that the damage resulted from acts of war or comparable force majeure circumstances, from wilful acts or omissions of a third party, or from negligence or other wrongful act of the authority responsible for the upkeep of navigational aids in the workout of its functions. Issued in accordance with the provisions of Report VII of the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Harm, 1969.
The result could be that where the ship is bareboat chartered and its management is entrusted by the charterer to a manager, there would be three persons who must retain insurance or other economic security, thereby tripling the insurance fees: a result that beneath the CLC has been avoided by channelling the liability to the registered owner.
As a outcome, the ruling by the Paris TGI expands the circle of persons liable for the pollution harm caused by the oil spill, by acquiring that various physical and legal persons, other than these exempted from liability beneath Write-up III, 4 of the CLC, exercised control over the activity of the tanker and may well have incurred criminal responsibility, which in turn entails civil liability under French law.