This Chapter discusses Supplytime’s allocation of liabilities for pollution as between owners and charterers, and the provision which was added in Supplytime 2005 giving the charterers the right to have observers attend the scene of a pollution incident involving the vessel. It also deals with the international conventions which form the background to the Supplytime provisions, including the Civil Liability Convention and the Bunkers Convention, which deal with liability for pollution from vessels.
The allocation in Supplytime 89 and 2005 makes the owners liable for pollution only if the spill comes from the vessel (as distinct from the cargo) and is caused by the owners’ personnel. Pollution which comes from the cargo on the vessel, or from anything else such as an offshore installation which the vessel runs into, and also pollution which comes from the vessel (as distinct from the cargo) but is caused by the personnel of the charterers or their client or their other contractors, is allocated to the charterers. The allocation in Supplytime 2017 makes the owners liable for pollution if the spill comes from the vessel (as distinct from the cargo), whether or not it was caused by the owners’ personnel. Pollution which comes from the cargo on the vessel, or from anything else, for instance if the vessel runs into a riser, remains the charterers’ liability.
Reading the Supplytime wording literally, the allocation might apply to all pollution incidents involving the vessel, wherever they may occur, so that if the vessel anchors in a port and fouls a pipeline, or collides with another vessel on the way out to the worksite, the resulting pollution would be for the charterers’ account. However, I now consider, on the basis of BIMCO’s Explanatory Notes, that it can be argued in relation to Supplytime 2005 and 2017 that this allocation is to be applied only to incidents occurring in an offshore location to which the vessel has been sent by the charterers.
However, the position will not be that pollution occurring away from the offshore worksite will be the owners’ liability if it was caused by the negligence of the owners’ personnel, and the charterers’ liability only if it was caused by negligence on the charterers’ side. Under the basic knock-for-knock provisions in Supplytime, all liability arising from the cargo is for the charterers’ account, and so liability for all pollution which comes from the cargo will be allocated to the charterers. Also, under the rather obscure wording of the “lien” clause (clause 19 in Supplytime 2005 and 2017) even if the pollution comes from the vessel as distinct from the cargo, the liability may be allocated to the charterers if the incident arose from “the operation of the vessel by the charterers”.