Hongjun Shan | International Recent Developments
On January 10, 2011, the Judicial Committee of the Supreme People’s Court of China, at its 1509th meeting, adopted the Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court on Trying Cases About Disputes on Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage from Ships (Oil Pollution Provisions). The Oil Pollution Provisions were promulgated by the Supreme People’s Court on May 4, 2011, and came into force on July 1, 2011. The Oil Pollution Provisions consist of thirty-two articles.
Before the Oil Pollution Provisions were adopted, the China Vessel-Source Oil Pollution Compensation Regime (CVOPCR) provided a legal framework consisting of international conventions and China’s domestic legislation. Specifically, China is a party to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1992 (CLC-92) and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage of 2001 (Bunker Convention). In addition, China enacted several domestic laws governing vessel-source oil pollution damage and compensation owed by polluting ships, which include the Marine Environment Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China (Amended), China Maritime Code (CMC), Special Maritime Procedural Law of the People’s Republic of China, and Regulation on the Prevention and Control of Vessel-Induced Pollution to the Marine Environment (Oil Pollution Regulations). In practice, the coexistence of the above mentioned laws has caused irregularities and inconsistencies in the application of law. Also, the above laws do not address important issues with respect to vessel-source oil pollution compensation, namely the procedures for creating an oil pollution limitation fund.
The Oil Pollution Provisions are not intended to change the status of the CVOPCR; rather, they seek to resolve disputes over compensation for vessel-source oil pollution damage. In order to achieve this goal, and in light of current judicial practices, the Oil Pollution Provisions were formulated pursuant to the General Principles of the Civil Law of China, the Tort Law of China, the Marine Environment Protection Law of China, the CMC, the Civil Procedure Law of China, the Maritime Procedural Law of China, other relevant laws and regulations, and the international treaties that China has ratified or acceded to.
The Oil Pollution Provisions serve as a comprehensive legal scheme, covering both the substantive and procedural issues with respect to vessel-source oil pollution damage. This Article highlights the relevant issues covered by the Provisions.