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Insurance

Mandatory coverage

What maritime risks must be covered under the law and what is the mandatory level of coverage?

Norway is a party to the following conventions requiring the insurance of risks:

  • the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001;
  • the Protocol to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1992;
  • the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1992;
  • the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974; and
  • the Athens Protocol 2002.

In addition to the above conventions, Norway has implemented the EU Safety Rules and Standards for Passenger Ships Directive (2009/45/EC).

Insurable risks and ships

What other risks are typically covered by marine insurance contracts concluded in your jurisdiction and what ships are insurable?

Marine insurance contracts typically protect against:

  • hull and machinery damage;
  • protection and indemnity;
  • total loss;
  • war;
  • loss of hire; and
  • cargo interest.

Subrogation rights

What is the legal regime governing marine insurers’ subrogation rights?

An insurer paying a claim will be subrogated into the recipients claim against any third party tortfeasor. In general, the recipient will also sign a subrogation receipt whereby it assigns the claim to the insurer. 

Marine accidents

Collision and pollution

What rules and procedures (under both domestic and international law) apply to the prevention of, liability for and remedy of:

(a) Collision?

Chapter 8 of the Maritime Code 1994 is based on the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law with respect to Collisions between Vessels 1910 (the Brussels Convention). The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 have also been implemented through regulations under the Maritime Code.

Liability for damage that occurs due to a collision is determined on the basis of negligence by the carrier or a party that the carrier is identified with. However, in collisions that involve oil pollution, carriers will be held liable on objective grounds, such as liability notwithstanding negligence (for further details see question (b)).

Collision claims will typically be governed by the law and jurisdiction where the collision occurred. They are secured by law in the vessel liable for the damage and are time barred for two years from the date on which the damage occurred. 

(b) Oil pollution?

Chapter 10 of the Maritime Code implements the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001, the Civil Liability Convention 1992 and the Fund Convention 1992, including the Supplementary Fund Protocol 2003.

Under Section 183 of the Maritime Code, the shipowner or charterer or any other party responsible for a ship’s daily operations will be held strictly and objectively liable for oil pollution. This includes all damage or loss that is caused by bunkers or oil escaping the vessel, including expenses, damages or loss that occurs due to reasonable measures taken to prevent immediate and significant damage.

A shipowner can avoid liability if it is documented that the oil pollution occurred due to:

  • an act of war or an unavoidable and exceptional natural disaster;
  • an act or omission by a third party that caused the damage; or
  • negligence or another unlawful act by public authorities when conducting necessary maintenance regarding a lighthouse or another navigation aid.

A shipowner’s liability can also be reduced in cases of contributory negligence or willful conduct by the claimant. 

(c) Other environmental damage caused by a ship?

Please see question (b) above. 

Salvage

What is the legal regime governing salvage and general average?

Chapter 16 of the Maritime Code implements the International Convention on Salvage 1989. Chapter 17 implements the York-Antwerp Rules 1994 for the adjustment of general average contributions. These rules have similarly been implemented in all other Nordic countries.

The salvage rules are generally not mandatory, but apply unless otherwise agreed. They can be set aside only if an agreement:

  • conflicts with mandatory provisions in the Maritime Code regarding environmental damage or oil pollution; or
  • is deemed unreasonable and was made under severe stress or with the imminent risk of damage.

Places of refuge

What framework governs access to places of refuge for ships in distress?

Under Section 39 of the Harbour Act 2009, every ship is entitled to enter ports and all port terminals must accept vessels, with some exceptions. For vessels in distress, Section 38 of the Harbour Act allows public authorities to require the shipowner, carrier or other operators to invoke measures to prevent an emergency situation and secure the vessel when needed to:

  • prevent the loss of life or damage to persons, the environment or property; or
  • secure the safety and navigability of Norwegian waters. 

Wreck removal

What rules and procedures apply to the removal of wrecks in your jurisdiction?

Under Section 34 of the Harbour Act, no party can leave ships or wrecks in Norwegian waters where they may cause danger, damage or inconvenience to the waters or their navigability or traffic. The responsible party, being in any case the registered owner, must invoke measures to prevent or reduce such danger, damage or inconvenience.

Under what circumstances can the authorities order removal of wreckage?

Under Section 35 of the Harbour Act, the government can order the responsible party to remove a wreck within a specified period when it prevents the waters being used in regards to navigability, safe traffic or otherwise. If the wreck is not removed within the specified period, the responsible party can be ordered to:

  • cover reasonable expenses for the wreck removal; or
  • clean up the area affected by the wreck.

Under Section 37 of the Pollution Act, the relevant municipality can order the responsible party to clean up a wreck that is polluting the water or pay for such clean up or removal. The ‘responsible party’ is the registered owner of the wreck both at the time of the incident and when the wreck’s removal is ordered by the public authorities.

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