Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the Australian Government

Claims for damage caused by fuel oil

The International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (Bunkers Convention) establishes a scheme to provide compensation for pollution damage from bunker or fuel oil from ships when the Civil Liability Convention does not apply. In accordance with the Bunkers Convention:

  • the shipowner is strictly liable for pollution damage resulting from a spill of bunker or fuel oil;
  • the shipowner is able to limit liability under any applicable national or international regime;
  • the registered owners of ships having a gross tonnage greater than 1,000 are required to maintain insurance to cover their liabilities; and
  • claims for pollution damage may be brought directly against the insurer.

The applicable regime which establishes liability limits in Australia in respect of claims following a spill of bunker or fuel oil is the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims.

The Bunkers Convention entered into force internationally on 21 November 2008. The Bunkers Convention is implemented in Australia by the Protection of the Sea (Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage) Act 2008 which commenced on 16 June 2009, the same day as the Bunkers Convention entered into force for Australia.

A full description of the Bunkers Convention is available on IMO's website.