On June 6, 2017, Canada ratified the International Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (the “Convention”). The ratification of this Convention follows the coming-into-force of the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act (“NLCA”) on January 1, 2017. This domestic legislation was a prerequisite for Canada ratifying the Convention. Canada’s closest neighbor, the United States, ratified in the Convention in 2008.
The NLCA modified the Canadian nuclear liability regime in a number of ways, including increasing the maximum compensation payable by a nuclear facility operator to third parties from $75M to $650M, which is further set to increase to $1B over the next three years. Under the NLCA, the liability of a nuclear facility operator for prescribed damages resulting from a nuclear incident is absolute, subject to the maximum compensation limits. The ratification of the Convention means that the absolute liability of an operator (including the maximum compensation payable) now extends to damages from a Canadian nuclear incident that are incurred in any other “Contracting State”, such as the United States. Canada is the tenth country to ratify the Convention and its ratification is a significant step towards establishing a uniform global nuclear civil liability regime.