1957 Limitation Convention
The High Contracting Parties,
HAVING RECOGNISED the desirability of determining by agreement
certain uniform rules relating to the limitation of the
liability of owners of seagoing ships;
HAVE DECIDED to conclude a Convention for this purpose, and
thereto have agreed as follows;
1. The owner of a sea-going ship may limit his liability in
accordance with Article 3 of this Convention in respect of
claims arising from any of the following occurrences, unless the
occurrence giving rise to the claim resulted from the actual
fault or privity of the owner
(a) loss of life of, or personal injury to, any person being
carried in the ship, and loss of, or damage to, any property on
board the ship;
(b) loss of life of, or personal injury to, any other person,
whether on land or on water, loss of or damage to any other
property or infringement of any rights caused by the act,
neglect or default of any person on board the ship for whose
act, neglect or default the owner is responsible or any person
not on board the ship for whose act, neglect or default the
owner is responsible: Provided however that in regard to the
act, neglect or default of this last class of person, the owner
shall only be entitled to limit his liability when the act,
neglect or default is one which occurs in the navigation or the
management of the ship or in the loading, carriage or discharge
of its cargo or in the embarkation, carriage or disembarkation
of its passengers;
(c) any obligation or liability imposed by any law relating to
the removal of wreck and arising from or in connection with the
raising, removal or destruction of any ship which is sunk,
stranded or abandoned (including anything which may be on board
such ship) and any obligation or liability arising out of damage
caused to harbour works, basins and navigable waterways
2. In the present Convention the expression "personal claims"
means claims resulting from loss of life and personal injury;
the expression "property claims" means all other claims set out
in paragraph (1) of this Article.
3. An owner shall be entitled to limit his liability in the
cases set out in paragraph (1) of this Article even in cases
where his liability arises, without proof of negligence on the
part of the owner or of persons for whose conduct he is
responsible, by reason of his ownership, possession, custody or
control of the ship.
4. Nothing in this Article shall apply:
(a) to claims for salvage or to claims for contribution in
(b) to claims by the Master, by members of the crew, by any
servants of the owner on board the ship or by servants of the
owner whose duties are connected with the ship, including the
claims of their heirs, personal representatives or dependents,
if under the law governing the contract of service between the
owner and such servants the owner is not entitled to limit his
liability in respect of such claims or if he is by such law only
permitted to limit his liability to an amount greater than that
provided for in Article 3 of this Convention.
5. If the owner of a ship is entitled to make a claim against a
claimant arising out of the same occurrence, their respective
claims shall be set off against each other and the provisions of
this Convention shall only apply to the balance, if any.
6. The question upon whom lies the burden of proving whether or
not the occurrence giving rise to the claim resulted from the
actual fault or privity of the owner shall be determined by the
7. The act of invoking limitation of liability shall not
constitute an admission of liability.
1. The limit of liability prescribed by Article 3 of this
Convention shall apply to the aggregate of personal claims and
property claims which arise on any distinct occasion without
regard to any claims which have arisen or may arise on any other
2. When the aggregate of the claims which arise on any distinct
occasion exceeds the limits of liability provided for by Article
3 the total sum representing such limits of liability may be
constituted as one distinct limitation fund.
3. The fund thus constituted shall be available only for the
payment of claims in respect of which limitation of liability
can be invoked.
4. After the fund has been constituted, no claimant against the
fund shall be entitled to exercise any right against any other
assets of the shipowner in respect of his claim against the
fund, if the limitation fund is actually available for the
benefit of the claimant.
1. The amounts to which the owner of a ship may limit his
liability under Article 1 shall be:
(a) where the occurrence has only given rise to property claims
an aggregate amount of 1,000 francs for each ton of the ship's
(b) where the occurrence has only given rise to personal claims
an aggregate amount of 3,100 francs for each ton of the ship's
(c) where the occurrence has given rise both to personal claims
and property claims an aggregate amount of 3,100 francs for each
ton of the ship's tonnage, of which a first portion amounting to
2,100 francs for each ton of the ship's tonnage shall be
exclusively appropriated to the payment of personal claims and
of which a second portion amounting to 1,000 francs for each ton
of the ship's tonnage shall be appropriated to the payment of
property claims: Provided however that in cases where the first
portion is insufficient to pay the personal claims in full, the
unpaid balance of such claims shall rank rateably with the
property claims for payment against the second portion of the
2. In each portion of the limitation fund the distribution among
the claimants shall be made in proportion to the amounts of
their established claims.
3. If before the fund is distributed the owner has paid in whole
or in part any of the claims set out in Article 1 paragraph (1),
he shall pro tanto be placed in the same position in relation to
the fund as the claimant whose claim he has paid, but only to
the extent that the claimant whose claim he has paid would have
had a right of recovery against him under the national law of
the State where the fund has been constituted.
4. Where the ship owner establishes that he may at a later date
be compelled to pay in whole or in part any of the claims set
out in Article 1 paragraph (1) the Court or other competent
authority of the State where the fund has been constituted may
order that a sufficient sum shall be provisionally set aside to
enable the ship owner at such later date to enforce his claim
against the fund in the manner set out in the preceding
5. For the purpose of ascertaining the limit of an owner's
liability in accordance with the provisions of this Article the
tonnage of a ship of less than 300 tons shall be deemed to be
6. The franc mentioned in this Article shall be deemed to refer
to a unit consisting of sixty five and a half milligrams of gold
of millesimal fineness nine hundred. The amounts mentioned in
paragraph (1) of this Article shall be converted into the
national currency of the State in which limitation is sought on
the basis of the value of that currency by reference to the unit
defined above at the date on which the ship owner shall have
constituted the limitation fund, made the payment or given a
guarantee which under the law of that State is equivalent to
7. For the purpose of this convention tonnage shall be
calculated as follows:
in the case of steamships or other mechanically propelled ships
there shall be taken the net tonnage with the addition of the
amount deducted from the gross tonnage on account of engine room
space for the purpose of ascertaining the net tonnage;
in the case of all other ships there shall be taken the net
Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 3, paragraph (2)
of this Convention, the rules relating to the constitution and
distribution of the limitation fund, if any, and all rules of
procedure shall be governed by the national law of the State in
which the fund is constituted.
1. Whenever a ship owner is entitled to limit his liability
under this Convention, and the ship or another ship or other
property in the same ownership has been arrested within the
jurisdiction of a Contracting State or bail or other security
has been given to avoid arrest, the Court or other competent
authority of such State may order the release of the ship or
other property or of the security given if it is established
that the ship owner has already given satisfactory bail or
security in a sum equal to the full limit of his liability under
this Convention and that the bail or other security so given is
actually available for the benefit of the claimant in accordance
with his rights.
2. Where, in circumstances mentioned in paragraph (1) of this
Article. bail or other security has already been given:
(a) at the port where the accident giving rise to the claim
(b) at the first port of call after the accident if the accident
did not occur in a port;
(c) at the port of disembarkation or discharge if the claim is a
personal claim or relates to damage to cargo;
the Court or other competent authority shall order the release
of the ship or the bail or other security given, subject to the
conditions set forth in paragraph (1) of this Article.
3. The provisions of paragraphs (1) and (2) of this Article
shall apply likewise if the bail or other security already given
is in a sum less than the full limit of liability under this
Convention: Provided that satisfactory bail or other security is
given for the balance.
4. When the ship owner has given bail or other security in a sum
equal to the full limit of his liability under this Convention
such bail or other security shall he available for the payment
of all claims arising on a distinct occasion and in respect of
which the ship owner may limit his liability.
5. Questions of procedure relating to actions brought under the
provisions of this Convention and also the time limit within
which such actions shall be brought or prosecuted shall be
decided in accordance with the national law of the Contracting
State in which the action takes place.
1. In this Convention the liability of the ship owner includes
the liability of the ship herself.
2. Subject to paragraph (3) of this Article, the provisions of
this Convention shall apply to the charterer, manager and
operator of the ship, and to the master, members of the crew and
other servants of the owner, charterer, manager or operator
acting in the course of their employment, in the same way as
they apply to an owner himself: Provided that the total limits
of liability of the owner and all such other persons in respect
of personal claims and property claims arising on a distinct
occasion shall not exceed the amounts determined in accordance
with Article 3 of this Convention.
3. When actions are brought against the master or against
members of the crew such persons may limit their liability even
if the occurrence which gives rise to the claims resulted from
the actual fault or privity of one or more of such persons. If,
however, the master or member of the crew is at the same time
the owner, co-owner, charterer, manager or operator of the ship
the provisions of this paragraph shall only apply where the act,
neglect or default in question is an act, neglect or default
committed by the person in question in his capacity as master or
as member of the crew of the ship.
This Convention shall apply whenever the owner of a ship, or any
other person having by virtue of the provisions of Article 6
hereof the same rights as an owner of a ship, limits or seeks to
limit his liability before the Court of a Contracting State or
seeks to procure the release of a ship or other property
arrested or the bail or other security given within the
jurisdiction of any such State.
Nevertheless, each Contracting State shall have the right to
exclude, wholly or partially, from the benefits of this
Convention any non-Contracting State, or any person who, at the
time when he seeks to limit his liability or to secure the
release of a ship or other property arrested or the bail or
other security in accordance with the provisions of Article 5
hereof, is not ordinarily resident in a Contracting State, or
does not have his principal place of business in a Contracting
State, or any ship in respect of which limitation of liability
or release is sought which does not at the time specified above
fly the flag of a Contracting State.
Each Contracting State reserves the right to decide what other
classes of ship shall be treated in the same manner as sea-going
ships for the purposes of this Convention.
This Convention shall be open for signature by the States
represented at the tenth session of the Diplomatic Conference on
This Convention shall be ratified and the instruments of
ratification shall be deposited with the Belgian Government
which shall notify through diplomatic channels all signatory and
acceding States of their deposit.
1. This Convention shall come into force six months after the
date of deposit of at least ten instruments of ratification, of
which at least five shall have been deposited by States that
have each a tonnage equal or superior to one million gross tons
2. For each signatory State which ratifies the Convention after
the date of deposit of the instrument of ratification
determining the coming into force such as is stipulated in
paragraph (1) of this Article, this Convention shall come into
force six months after the deposit of their instrument of
Any State not represented at the tenth session of the Diplomatic
Conference on Maritime Law may accede to this Convention.
The instruments of accession shall be deposited with the Belgian
Government which shall inform through diplomatic channels all
signatory and acceding States of the deposit of any such
The Convention shall come into force in respect of the acceding
State six months after the date of the deposit of the instrument
of accession of that State, but not before the date of entry
into force of the Convention as established by Article 11 (1).
Each High Contracting Party shall have the right to denounce
this Convention at any time after the coming into force thereof
in respect of such High Contracting Party. Nevertheless, this
denunciation shall only take effect one year after the date on
which notification thereof has been received by the Belgian
Government which shall inform through diplomatic channels all
signatory and acceding States of such notification.
1. Any High Contracting Party may at the time of its
ratification of or accession to this Convention or at any time
thereafter declare by written notification to the Belgian
Government that the Convention shall extend to any of the
territories for whose international relations it is responsible.
The Convention shall six months after the date of the receipt of
such notification by the Belgian Government extend to the
territories named therein, but not before the date of the coming
into force of this Convention in respect of such High
2. Any High Contracting Party which has made a declaration under
paragraph (1) of this Article extending the Convention to any
territory for whose international relations it is responsible
may at any time thereafter declare by notification given to the
Belgian Government that the Convention shall cease to extend to
such territory. This denunciation shall take effect one year
after the date on which notification thereof has been received
by the Belgian Government;
3. The Belgian Government shall inform through diplomatic
channels all signatory and acceding States of any notification
received by it under this Article.
Any High Contracting Party may three years after the coming into
force of this Convention in respect of such High Contracting
Party or at any time thereafter request that a Conference be
convened in order to consider amendments to this Convention.
Any High Contracting Party proposing to avail itself of this
right shall notify the Belgian Government which shall convene
the Conference within six months thereafter.
In respect of the relations between States which ratify this
Convention or accede to it, this Convention shall replace and
abrogate the International Convention for the unification of
certain rules concerning the limitation of the liability of the
owners of sea-going ships, signed at Brussels, on the 25th of
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the Plenipotentiaries, duly authorized, have
signed this Convention.
DONE at Brussels, this tenth day of October 1957, in the French
and English languages, the two texts being equally authentic, in
a single copy, which shall remain deposited in the archives of
the Belgian Government, which shall issue certified copies.
Protocol of Signature
1. Any State, at the time of signing, ratifying or acceding to
this Convention may make any of the reservations set forth in
paragraph (2). No other reservations to this Convention shall be
2. The following are the only reservations admissible:
(a) Reservation of the right to exclude the application of
Article 1 paragraph (1) (c).
(b) Reservation of the right to regulate by specific provisions
of national law the system of limitation of liability to be
applied to ships of less than 300 tons.
(c) Reservation of the right to give effect to this Convention
either by giving it the force of law or by including in national
legislation, in a form appropriate to that legislation, the
provisions of this Convention.
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