China sets down rules on oil spill compensation

10:39, June 18, 2011      

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China's Supreme People's Court (SPP) has issued a set of judicial explanations specifying compensation responsibilities in cases of vessels' oil spill.

In a case where two or more vessels spill oil, both the amount and the types of leaking oil should be taken into consideration when determining the ensuing environmental damage and the amount of compensation fund that should be paid by the owner of each ship, said the document.

If the damage cannot be determined for each ship, all ship-owners involved should take joint liability and pay equal amount for the parties suffering losses.

According to the document, in a case of collision involving multiple ships, claimants have the right to demand full compensation from only those ships that spill oil.

"There has been no disastrous oil spill accidents in China's territory yet, but a legal system needs to be improved in order to cope with potential major leakage," said an unnamed official with the SPP.

Official figures show that a total of 718 vessel oil spill accidents were reported in China's sea areas from 1998 to 2008. These accidents resulted in the spill of 11,749 tonnes of oil.

In addition, the country's maritime courts heard more than 300 cases concerning vessel pollution compensation in the past 10 years, and the number and severity level of these cases are on the rise, according to the SPP.

The document will take effect on July 1.

Source: Xinhua
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