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Michael Faure,Wang Hu:船舶油污损害赔偿限额的未来走向(译文)

时间:2012-05-13 点击:

对争议点的探讨无不显示了船舶油污损害赔偿范围未来的走向。变革的一项重要议题显然是责任上限问题。的确,公约的演变昭示着,每发生一次事故,责任限额便随之提高。在新的2000年修正案刚刚通过-特别是由于埃里卡灾难之后-另外一桩影响深远的发生于“威望号”油轮的事故对国际规制带来了更多新的挑战。根据现有的规则,威望号灾难受害者可得的赔偿额大约为1.7141亿欧元。尽管判断该笔金额是否足以清偿实际的损失尚为时过早,但很显然,金额远远不够。因此,欧盟不止一次提出,将于2003年11月生效的新的条约实际已经过时。更高的责任限额或者甚至无限责任将可能再次提上日程。自从国际海事组织在2003年5月批准了一项补充基金,使得可得的赔偿提高至超过10亿美元,显而易见,国际组织已经开始采取重要的举措以提高赔偿限额。

来自不同行业部门的建议大多支持保留现有的赔偿措施的平衡,以保证损害赔偿的实施效果。为保持平衡,保赔协会建议,针对补充基金成员国的小型船只,允许其自愿提高责任限额。

另外一个具体的建议已经成形,以期对现有的制度进行修改。首先,考虑到损害赔偿的妥善性,基金1992年议定书要求所有的索赔要求都必须得到同等对待,这将造成对主要溢油事件的解决延迟。这被认为与迅速赔偿的理念背道而驰。对其替代方案可以是针对不同类型的诉求建立优先顺序。

其次,出现了针对责任集中的变革需求。通过将责任集中在船舶的注册所有人,以排除其他主体的责任,诸如租船人、管理人或者操作人,其结果是未能阻止对标准之下船只的使用。除此之外,有种观点认为责任建制应当更紧密的与船舶自身的风险紧密相连。显然,这是公约采取诸如逐渐取消对单片轮船的适用的措施以提高海上安全的首要任务。然而,另有观点认为,在责任和保险水平下,更具危险性的船只应当要么承担更高(或者甚至无限的)责任(尽管会有观点质疑诸如破产风险等一旦发生,这种方法实施的效力),要么至少承担更高的显示其更高风险的保险费用。
……

综上说述,可以清晰的看到,1969年的油污损害赔偿制度因其引入的严格责任制度、强制保险和(在当时)数额相当之高的损害赔偿额而被认为具有革命性和创新性。然而,不仅仅由于人们日益增长的环境意识,更特别的是,自从公约所规定的损害赔偿额不足以清偿大额损失逐渐被缔约国所认知,现如今盛行的观点是,国际机制规定的几乎不可打破的损害赔偿限额以及油轮所有人的排他性责任,实质上更多的保护着工业而非污染实际受害者。例如,在卡迪兹号事件 中,由于美国不是公约的缔约国,因此事件的受害人倍感高兴,因为他们可以在美国本土法院提起诉讼,并且可以根据本国国内法获得较之于根据CLC求偿更多的赔偿金。该案显示出受害人更倾向于绕开国际机制(因其集中责任于船主并且具有赔偿上限),同时揭示了对现如今国际建制有效性的质疑。

译者单位:对外经济贸易大学法学院。感谢译者授权本网发表!

附原文

The International Regimes for the Compensation of Oil-Pollution Damage: Are they Effective?
Michael Faure and Wang Hu
POSSIBLE FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

This discussion of the critical issues obviously shows the possible direction of future developments. An important issue for reform is obviously the capping of liability. Indeed, the evolution of the conventions makes clear that limits were increased every time after new incidents occurred. When the new 2000 amendments had just been adopted – inter alia as a result of the Erika disaster – another major disaster with the tanker Prestige caused more new challenges to the international regime. The amount available on the basis of the current regime for the Prestige disaster is approximately 171.41 million Euros. It is yet still too early to judge whether this amount will be sufficient to cover the actual damage, but it is likely that this will not be the case. Hence, the European Commission is once more arguing that the new regime is already out-dated before it enters into force in November 2003. Higher limits or even unlimited liability will probably again be on the agenda. Apparently important steps have already been taken since the IMO adopted a supplementary fund in May 2003 bringing the available amounts to just over US$1 billion.
Proposals from different sectors of industry mostly favor preserving the existing balance of measures to facilitate compensation. To maintain equitable sharing, P&I clubs have proposed a voluntary increase in the limits applicable to small ships for States that are party to the supplementary fund.
Other concrete proposals have been formulated to amend the existing regimes. First, concerning the adequacy of compensation, the Fund Protocol 1992 requires that all claims must be treated on an equal footing, which may lead to delays in claim settlements for major oil spills. This is considered to run counter to the idea of prompt compensation. One alternative may be to establish an order of priority for different classes of claims, which may accelerate the damage-compensation procedure in some cases.
Second, there is a need to reform the channelling of liability. By channelling the liability to the registered owner of the ship to the exclusion of other parties, such as the charterer, manager or operator, channelling fails to discourage the use of sub-standard ships. In addition, one could argue that the liability regime should be much more closely linked to the risk posed by the ship. Obviously it is the primary task of conventions aimed at promoting safety at sea to, for instance, phase out single-hulled ships. However, one could also argue that at the liability and insurance level, these‘riskier’ ships should either be exposed to higher (or even unlimited) liability (although one could question the effectiveness of this, given the insolvency risk), or at least to higher premiums, reflecting the higher risk they pose.
In summary, it may be clear that the oil-pollution compensation regime could have been considered revolutionary and innovative in 1969 when a strict liability regime with compulsory insurance and (at that time) reasonably high amounts of compensation were introduced. However, not only as a result of growing environmental awareness, but more specifically since it became clear that the amount provided for in the regimes did not satisfactorily address large losses, the idea today is that this international regime, providing almost unbreakable limits with exclusive liability of the tanker owner, provides in fact better protection for industry than victims. It should therefore not be surprising to see that, for instance, as a result of the Amoco Cadiz incident, victims were happy to notice that the USA was not a party to the conventions, thus allowing them to bring actions in US courts, and enabling a larger amount of compensation than they would have received under the CLC regime. This action, showing that victims prefer to circumvent the regimes (with its channelling and financial caps) casts serious doubt on the effectiveness of the international regimes today.

 

 
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