The United Kingdom is a party to the 1969 Civil Liability Convention and the 1971 Fund Convention (in addition to the as yet unenforced 1992 protocols).
Several days after the spill, the Skuld P&I Club (the Empress’s underwriters for civil liability) and IOPC Fund (International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund) set up a Joint Claims Office in Milford Haven. The office received claims for clean-up costs and economic loss as a result of the spill and sent them to the Skuld P&I Club and IOPC Fund for processing and approval.
At the end of the month of June, MPCU estimated that clean-up costs came to:
- 3.1 million francs for the aircraft used for spraying and surveillance
- 2.55 million francs for purchasing and moving dispersants
- 8.8 million francs for beach clean-up.
Given the specifications of the vessel and the kind of insurance coverage it had, the upper limit available for compensation providing damage to the vessel was proven, amounted to about 425 million francs 60 million of which would have to be paid by the insurers (Skuld P&I) and 365 million by the IOPC Fund.
In April the Skuld had effected advance payments for a total of 1.81 million francs to 41 claimants suffering from financial hardship, fishermen, tourism professionals (hotels, seaside holiday camps).
By mid June about 200 claims had been filed with the Claims Office that was set up by the P&I Club and the IOPC Fund in Milford Haven as soon as the spill had occurred. As claims may well have to be paid over the period of a few years it is too soon to say exactly how much compensation will be paid. We can only point out at this stage that on the 16th April, the IOPC Fund Executive Committee instructed the administrator to pay only 75% of the claims providing they had been substantiated in view of the fact that available funding would no doubt prove to be inadequate to pay all claims in full.
Many of the claims have already been settled. Special attention was paid to cases of hardship and particularly fishermen with a view to expediting compensation payments.