Pushing the (tonnage) limits
This update highlights two recent changes in tonnage limits – one international, the other in Hong Kong.
Increased limits under 1996 Protocol
On 8 June 2015, increased limits came into effect under the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC) 1976. The increases mean that, whether for personal injury/loss of life or property claims, the limits are now just over 50% higher.
The amendments were adopted by the IMO’s Legal Committee in June 2012, following a proposal to increase the limits submitted by 20 State Parties to the LLMC Protocol. They came into force in accordance with the "tacit acceptance" procedure for updating the 1996 limits.
Full details of the new limits can be found by following the link below.
Hong Kong adopts 1996 Protocol
Just a month before the limits increased, the 1996 Protocol was finally brought into effect under Hong Kong law.
Hong Kong thus became the 50th and most recent state or territory to implement the increases to the 1976 Convention limits, joining Australia, Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand as major Asia-Pacific parties to the Protocol.
Amendments to the Merchant Shipping (Limitation of Shipowners Liability) Ordinance (Cap. 434) were passed by the Hong Kong legislature as long ago as 2005. However, the amendments could not come into effect until after the Central People's Government notified the IMO of Hong Kong's accession to the Protocol. That has now taken place and by a notice published in the Gazette on 30 April 2015 the Government appointed 3 May 2015 as the date when the amendments would come into operation.
For the time being, it is the original 1996 limits which apply. It remains to be seen when the increased 1996 limits will be adopted. No further legislation is required for that as section 28 of the Ordinance gives the Chief Executive power to amend the limits in accordance with any revision to the Protocol.