top of page

Immunity for Classification Societies?

In more than 250 yr history of classification societies, there have been very few decisions in which Class has been held liable by courts, primarily because of consideration of public policy. Class societies cannot become super insurers of all sea borne trade. An interesting opinion was put forward by the Advocate General to EU’s top court last week in the case of The Al Salam Boccaccio 98.

The vessel caught fire and sank in Red Sea in 2006 causing the death of over 1000 people. It was classed with Rina. Parliamentary investigation by Egypt highlighted several shortcomings. The owner fled Egypt to escape the prison sentence.

In 2013, survivors and relatives of victims approached an Italian Court asking it to order Rina to pay compensation. They said that Rina's actions were to be blamed for ferry’s lack of safety & stability. Rina pleaded immunity, being delegates of the Panama flag state. The Italian court approached the ECJ on the issue of immunity.

Advocate General opined that immunity is generally recognised when the dispute concerns acts performed in the exercise of public authority. Flag States delegate tasks of technical nature to Class, which do not proceed from exercise of public powers. There was also no rule of customary int’l law granting immunity to Class.

2 views0 comments


Recent posts

bottom of page