Uniform Law and Conflicts in Private Enforcement of Environmental Law: the Maritime Sector and Beyond
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It is widely recognised that the incident occurring with the Liberian ship Torrey Canyon on 19 March 1967 brought two fundamental problems to light that have accompanied the development of international maritime law over the past decades, namely, on the one hand, the necessity to ensure the possibility for States other than the flag State to regulate the conduct of ships on the high seas for the purpose of eliminating or mitigating the danger of pollution to their marine and coastal environment and, on the other hand, the call for a profound modification of the “ordinary rules of maritime law” with regard to the apportionment of damages caused by the “escape or discharge of oil carried in bulk at sea”, especially in cases where such damages reach “a massive scale”. As far as the latter aspect is concerned, the inadequacy of a fault-based liability standard, though consistent with the approaches that were traditionally dominant in the maritime field, became quickly clear, in particular taking into account the perceived need to saddle the maritime industry with at least a portion of the relevant financial burden and the circumstance that pollution caused by oil spills is at times due to accidents where none of the ships involved is actually at fault. In addition, the principle of causation may render it difficult to blame a ship for oil pollution damage when unforeseeable and exceptional sea conditions, rather than the conduct of the ship itself, are at the origin of the spill.
KeywordsCivil Liability Private Enforcement Environmental Liability Pollution Damage Maritime Industry
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