Charterers are exposed to pollution liabilities in a variety of ways.
Under the Civil Liability Convention (CLC),tanker pollution claims are channelled solely to the registered shipowner and whose P&I cover responds. However, not all jurisdictions recognise the CLC. An owner may have recourse rights against the charterer.”
In some places, eg the USA and Japan, the charterers can incur direct and even strict liability for pollution caused by a ship.
The US Oil Pollution Act 1990 (OPA) provides that “any person owning, operating or demise chartering the vessel” may be liable. Individual states in the US (eg Alaska, California, Washington) have enacted their own legislation and most states target the “transporter of oil”, “person having control over oil”, and “person taking responsibility”, so a time charterer can be at risk.