With Parliament's passage of Act 230 (December 1 2016), the long-awaited reform of the Italian legal regime regulating maritime pilots' liability has now come to fruition. The amendments introduced to the Code of Navigation establish a system based on limitation of liability and compulsory insurance. Pilots' representatives have welcomed the reform.

Under Italian law, pilots can be held liable when evidence indicates that the incident was the consequence of the "inaccuracy of the information and indications provided… in the determination of the route". Pilots are thus always – as they are in many other jurisdictions – consultants to the master, who does not cease being liable for the vessel's manoeuvers.

While this provision has been maintained through the new legislation, pilots' liability is now subject to the statutory limit of €1 million, whereby the amount is intended to cover all losses caused by the incident, regardless of the number of claimants.

The law expressly states that the right to limit liability will be lost if the damage is found to have been caused by the pilot's gross negligence or wilful misconduct; this proviso correctly renders the limitation compliant with constitutional requirements.

The limitation of liability comes alongside the introduction of compulsory insurance for pilots. Evidence of the insurance contracts undertaken by the pilots will have to be made available and the stipulation of suitable insurance cover will be a necessary precondition for each pilot to render service.

The capping of liability opens the way to the insurance market and is intended to increase the availability of economically efficient insurance cover.

For further information on this topic please contact Lawrence Dardani at Dardani Studio Legale by telephone (+39 010 576 1816) or email (lawrence.dardani@dardani.it). The Dardani Studio Legale website can be accessed at www.dardani.it.

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