Strasbourg Convention of 2012 on the Limitation of Liability in Inland Navigation (CLNI 2012) – New Limitation Regime
This article is intended to be used as a reference to aid members to understand the CLNI 2012 terms in particular the new increased limitation of liability.
The Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) initiated the Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation (CLNI) 1988 based on the model of the Convention on limitation of liability for maritime claims (LLMC).
The purpose was to allow owners and crew members of inland vessels and their salvors to set a maximum amount to limit their liability in respect of claims made in connection with a single incident.
This limitation depends on the dimensions of the vessel, determined by the vessel’s displacement, propulsion power, dead weight, and in the case of passenger vessels the permitted number of passengers.
The limitation of liability allows for the setting up of a fund containing the amount of the limitation or by defensive proceedings. The 1988 CLNI provides that the practicalities of the procedure should be laid down by the contracting Parties.
The CLNI 1988 was adopted on 4 November 1988 and entered into force on 1 June 1997. It was ratified by Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The CLNI was limited to only the contracting states of treaties relating to navigation on the Rhine and the Moselle.
Revision – CLNI 2012
In 2007 a CCNR working group set out to revise the CLNI 1988 in order to consider extending the geographical limits beyond the Rhine and the Moselle and to increase the limitation amounts.
A CCNR conference in Strasbourg from 25-27 September 2012 including 12 participating states (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland) agreed with the revisions and resulted in 7 states signing the CLNI 2012: Belgium, France, Poland, Serbia, The Netherlands and Germany.
Article 17 of CLNI 2012 provided that the CLNI 2012 comes into force “on the first day of the month following the expiry of one year after ratification of at least 4 states” or on the date the CLNI 1988 is no longer in force.
The CLNI 1988 was denounced on 7 June 2018 by Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. By June 2018 Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Serbia have either acceded, accepted or ratified the CLNI 2012. The CLNI will enter into force on 1 July 2019.
The CLNI 2012 provides for the following differences to the CLNI 1988:
(i) Expansion of the geographical area.
(ii) Restrictions of parties entitled to limit.
(iii) Increase in the limits of liability.
(iv) Separate fund for claims arising from the transport of dangerous goods.
(v) Periodic updating of the limitation amounts.
Broader Geographical Area
Article 12 requires that the vessel must have been operating on a waterway located in territory of a contracting state. Accordingly, the CLNI 2012 now applies beyond the Rhine and the Moselle to include all inland waterways, including the Danube, Elbe, Sava and Oder.
The CLNI 2012 does allow an option to exclude the application of the Regulation to minor waterways.
Parties entitled to limit
Article 1 refers to vessel owners and salvors as parties entitled to limit under the CLNI 2012.
Art 1 II b defines a vessel owner as:
“shall mean the owner, hirer or charterer entrusted with the use of the vessel as well as the operator”
Only a time charter is entitled to limit. For the purposes of the CLNI 2012 a voyage charter or the “slot charter” is not seen as a charter of a vessel but as a contract of carriage.
Limitation Amounts have significantly increased
CLNI 2012 stipulates 3 limitation amounts:
Article 6 – General limits: provides the following minimum amounts for loss of life or personal injury of claims for damage to property have doubled to:
Personal Injury: 400.000 SDR
Property: 200.000 SDR
The limitation is calculated on the following basis:
a) in respect of claims for loss of life or personal injury:
(i) for a vessel not intended for the carriage of cargo, in particular a passenger vessel, 400 units of account per cubic metre of displacement at maximum permitted draught, increased for vessels equipped with mechanical means of propulsion by 1 400 units of account per kW of power of the propulsion machinery;
(ii) for a vessel intended for the carriage of cargo, 400 units of account per tonne of the vessel’s deadweight, increased for vessels equipped with mechanical means of propulsion by 1 400 units of account per kW of power of the propulsion machinery;
(iii) for a pusher or tug, 1 400 units of account per kW of power of the propulsion machinery;
(iv) for a pusher which, at the time the damage was caused, was coupled to barges in a pushed train, the limit of liability calculated in accordance with the above sub-paragraph (iii) shall be increased by 200 units of account per tonne of deadweight of the pushed barges; this increase shall not apply in so far as it can be proved that the pusher has rendered salvage or assistance services to one or more of these barges;
(v) for a vessel equipped with mechanical means of propulsion which at the time the damage was caused was providing propulsion for other vessels coupled to this vessel, the limit of liability calculated in accordance with the above sub-paragraphs (i), (ii) or (iii) shall be increased by 200 units of account per tonne of deadweight or cubic metre of displacement of the other vessels; this increase shall not apply in so far as it can be proved that this vessel has rendered salvage or assistance services to one or more of the coupled vessels;
(vi) for floating and mobile appliances or plant within the meaning of the definition of vessel within the CLNI 2012.
(b) in respect of all other claims, half of the limit of liability calculated in accordance with paragraph (a);
(c) when the limit of liability calculated in accordance with paragraph (a) is insufficient to pay the claim mentioned therein in full, the limit of liability calculated in accordance with paragraph (b) shall be available for payment of the unpaid balance of claims under paragraph (a) and such unpaid balance shall rank rateably with claims mentioned under paragraph (b);
(d) in no case shall the limits of liability be less than 400 000 units of account for claims in respect of loss of life or personal injury or less than 200 000 units of account for all other claims
(i) For personal injury: Vessel used for the carriage of goods: 400SDR/t carrying capacity of the ship (+ 1400 SDR/KW capacity of the propulsion engine for vessels with their own propulsion power), at least 400,000 SDR.
Length 110m, 3250 dwt, 1190kW: Liability sum: 2,966 Million SDR.
(ii) For damage to property: Vessel used for the carriage of goods: half of 400SDR/t carrying capacity of the ship (+ 1400 SDR/KW capacity of the propulsion engine for vessels with their own propulsion power), at least 200,000 SDR.
Length 110m, 3250 dwt, 1190kW: Liability sum: 1,483 Million SDR.
Article 7 – Carriage of Dangerous Goods (defined as those referred to on Chapter 3.2 of the Regulations annexed to the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways (ADN) in force at the time); These are twice the general limits, subject to a minimum 10 Million SDR.
Article 8 – Passenger Claims on passenger vessels have been increased by 66% to a minimum amount of 2 Million SDR.
Article 3 provides for the Claims exempt from limitation, namely:
(a) Claims for assistance or salvage, including, if applicable, special compensation relating to salvage operations in respect of a vessel which in itself or its cargo threatened to cause damage to the environment;
(b) claims for contributions in general average;
(c) claims subject to any international convention or national legislation governing or prohibiting limitation of liability for nuclear damage
(d) claims against the owner of a nuclear vessel for nuclear damage;
(e) claims by servants of the vessel owner or salvor whose duties are connected with the vessel or with the salvage or assistance operations, including claims of their heirs, dependants or other persons entitled to make such claims if, under the law governing the contract of service between the vessel owner or salvor and such servants, the vessel owner or salvor is not entitled to limit his liability in respect of such claims, or if he is by such law only permitted to limit his liability to an amount greater than that calculated in accordance with Article 6 or, for claims within the meaning of Article 7, to an amount greater than the limit of liability calculated in accordance with Article 7.
Periodic updating of Limitation amounts
The CCNR Secretary General is to keep a regular check on the extent the limits are depreciating.
Article 20 provides that the Secretary General can submit a proposal for an amendment to the Contracting States if depreciation reaches a level of 10 % or on the initiative of 1/3rd of the participating States inflation exceeds 5% since the last update.
Any proposal will enter into force for Member States 21 months after notification unless the proposal is rejected by 1/3rd of the participating States within a period on one year from the date of notification.
Constitution of a Limitation Fund
Article 12 provides that any person alleged to be liable may constitute one or more funds in respect of a claim subject to limitation.
Article 14 provides that a party entitled to make a claim against the fund is barred from exercising any other action in respect of such claim against any other assets. There will be no right to choose between participating in the limitation proceeding and pursing a claim in an individual action.
Source: The Standard Club