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Web Alert: Nairobi Convention could soon be adopted by Norway

05 January 2017

The Norwegian Ministry of Transport is working on a proposal to ratify the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks by way of incorporation into its national legislation. The draft legislation which will implement the Convention suggests that Norway will not repeal its existing laws. Instead, it is anticipated that the two systems will work side by side.

As previously explained in our March 2015 Standard Bulletin, the Convention gives state parties the power to take measures to remove any wrecks located within their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – an area 12 nm from the costal baseline. It also allows States to opt to apply the Convention to wrecks located within their territorial waters (0-12 nm from the coastal baseline).

The current draft legislation shows that Norway intends to opt in and extend the Convention rules to its territorial and internal waters. However, Norway has no intention to give up its existing legislation which is actually more stringent than the Convention. For example, pursuant to the Pollution Act the Norwegian Authorities have wider power to order the removal of a wreck which simply constitutes a threat to the environment or can be considered unsightly.

In these circumstances, it is unclear how the existing legislation will work in practice with the Convention although there are suggestions that the recovery of costs of locating, marking and removing a wreck under Articles 7, 8 and 9 of the Convention as well as the direct right of action against the insurer under Article 12 may only be available to the Norwegian authorities in respect of a removal order issued in accordance with the Convention.

Finally, it is also important to remember that Norway has also exercised its option under the LLMC (as amended by the 1996 Protocol) to implement higher limits of liability for wreck removal. Members should therefore anticipate that these higher limits will apply to wreck removal ordered in accordance with the Nairobi Convention.

We will monitor the progress of this important piece of legislation and keep members updated.