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Brussels Convention on the Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships

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THE CONTRACTING PARTIES, HAVING RECOGNIZED the desirability of determining by agreement certain uniform rules concerning the liability of operators of nuclear ships, HAVE DECIDED decided to conclude a Convention for this purpose, and thereto have agreed as follows:

Article I

For the purposes of this Convention: 1. “Nuclear ship” means any ship equipped with a nuclear power plant.2. “Licensing State” means the Contracting State which operates or which has authorized the operation of a nuclear ship under its flag.3. “Person” means any individual or partnership, or any public or private body whether corporate or not, including a State or any of its constituent subdivisions.4. “Operator” means the person authorized by the licensing State to operate a nuclear ship, or where a Contracting State operates a nuclear ship, that State.5. “Nuclear fuel” means any material which is capable of producing energy by a self-sustaining process of nuclear fission and which is used or intended for use in a nuclear ship.6. “Radioactive products or waste” means any material, including nuclear fuel, made radioactive by neutron irradiation incidental to the utilization of nuclear fuel in a nuclear ship.7. “Nuclear damage” means loss of life or personal injury and loss or damage to property which arises out of or results from the radioactive properties or a combination of radioactive properties with toxic, explosive or other hazardous properties of nuclear fuel or of radioactive products or waste; any other loss, damage or expense so arising or resulting shall be included only if and to the extent that the applicable national law so provides.8. “Nuclear incident” means any occurrence or series of occurrences having the same origin which causes nuclear damage.9. “Nuclear power plant” means any power plant in which a nuclear reactor is, or is to be used as, the source of power, whether for propulsion of the ship or for any other purpose.10. “Nuclear reactor” means any installation containing nuclear fuel in such an arrangement that a self-sustained chain process of nuclear fission can occur therein without an additional source of neutrons.11. “Warship” means any ship belonging to the naval force of a State and bearing the external marks distinguishing warships of its nationality, under the command of an officer duly commissioned by the Government of such State and whose name appears in the Navy List, and manned by a crew who are under regular naval discipline.12. “Applicable national law” means the national law of the court having jurisdiction under the Convention including any rules of such national law relating to conflict of laws.Article

II 1. The operator of a nuclear ship shall be absolutely liable for any nuclear damage upon proof that such damage has been caused by a nuclear incident involving the nuclear fuel of, or radioactive products or waste produced in, such ship.2. Except as otherwise provided in this Convention no person other than the operator shall be liable for such nuclear damage.3. Nuclear damage suffered by the nuclear ship itself, its equipment, fuel or stores shall not be covered by the operator’s liability as defined in this Convention.4. The operator shall not be liable with respect to nuclear incidents occurring before the nuclear fuel has been taken in charge by him or after the nuclear fuel or radioactive products or waste have been taken in charge by another person duly authorized by law and liable for any nuclear damage that may be caused by them.5. If the operator proves that the nuclear damage resulted wholly or partially from an act or omission done with intent to cause damage by the individual who suffered the damage, the competent courts may exonerate the operator wholly or partially from his liability to such individual.6. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article, the operator shall have a right of recourse; (a) If the nuclear incident results from a personal act or omission done with intent to cause damage, in which even recourse shall lie against the individual who has acted, or omitted to act, with such intent; (b) If the nuclear incident occurred as a consequence of any wreck-raising operation, against the person or persons who carried out such operation without the authority of the operator or persons who carried out such operation without the authority of the operator or of the State having licensed the sunken ship or of the State in whose waters the wreck is situated; (c) If recourse is expressly provided for by contract.Article III 1. The liability of the operator as regards one nuclear ship shall be limited to 1,500 million francs in respect of any one nuclear incident notwithstanding that the nuclear incident may have resulted from any fault or privity of that operator; such limit shall include neither any interest nor costs awarded by a court in actions for compensation under this Convention.2. The operator shall be required to maintain insurance, or other financial security covering his liability for nuclear damage, in such amount, of such type and in such terms as the licensing State shall specify. The licensing State shall ensure the payment of claims for compensation for nuclear damage established against the operator by providing the necessary funds up to the limit laid down in paragraph 1 of this Article to the extent that the yield of the insurance or the financial security is inadequate to satisfy such claims.3. However, nothing in paragraph 2 of this Article shall require any Contracting State or any of its constituent subdivisions, such as States, Republics or Cantons, to maintain insurance or other financial security to cover their liability as operators of nuclear ships.4. The franc mentioned in paragraph 1 of this Article is a unit of account constituted by sixty-five and one half milligrams of gold of millesimal fineness nine hundred. The amount awarded may be converted into each national currency in round figures. Conversion into national currencies other than gold shall be effected on the basis of their gold value at the date of payment.Article IV Whenever both nuclear damage and damage other than nuclear damage have been caused by a nuclear incident or jointly by a nuclear incident and one or more other occurrences and the nuclear damage and such other damage are not reasonably separable, the entire damage shall, for the purposes of this Convention, be deemed to be nuclear damage exclusively caused by the nuclear incident. However, where damage is caused jointly by a nuclear incident covered by this Convention and by an emission of ionizing radiation or by an emission of ionizing radiation in combination with the toxic, explosive or other hazardous properties of the source of radiation not covered by it, nothing in this Convention shall limit or otherwise affect the liability, either as regards the victims or by way of recourse or contribution, of any person who may be held liable in connection with the emission of ionizing radiation or by the toxic, explosive or other hazardous properties of the source of radiation not covered by this Convention.Article V 1. Rights of compensation under this Convention shall be extinguished if an action is not brought within ten years from the date of the nuclear incident. If, however, under the law of the licensing State the liability of the operator is covered by insurance or other financial security or State indemnification for a period longer than ten years, the applicable national law may provide that rights of compensation against the operator shall only be extinguished after a period which may be longer than ten years, but shall not be longer than the period for which his liability is so covered under the law of the licensing State. However, such extension of the extinction period shall in no case affect the right of compensation under this Convention of any person who has brought an action for loss of life or personal injury against the operator before the expiry of the aforesaid period of ten years.2. Where nuclear damage is caused by nuclear fuel, radioactive products or waste which were stolen, lost, jettisoned, or abandoned, the period established under paragraph 1 of this Article shall be computed from the date of the nuclear incident causing the nuclear damage, but the period shall in no case exceed a period of twenty years from the date of the theft, loss, jettison or abandonment.3. The applicable national law may establish a period of extinction or prescription of not less than three years from the date on which the person who claims to have suffered nuclear damage had knowledge or ought reasonably to have had knowledge of the damage and of the person responsible for the damage, provided that the period established under paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article shall not be exceeded.4. Any person who claims to have suffered nuclear damage and who has brought an action for compensation within the period applicable under this Article may amend his claim to take into account any aggravation of the damage, even after the expiry of that period, provided that final judgment has not been entered.Article VI Where provisions of national health insurance, social insurance, social security, workmen’s compensation or occupational disease compensation systems include compensation for nuclear damage, rights of beneficiaries under such systems and rights of subrogation, or of recourse against the operator, by virtue of such systems, shall be determined by the law of the Contracting State having established such systems. However, if the law of such Contracting State allows claims of beneficiaries of such systems and such rights of subrogation and recourse to be brought against the operator in conformity with the terms of this Convention, this shall not result in the liability of the operator exceeding the amount specified in paragraph 1 of Article III.Article VII 1. Where nuclear damage engages the liability of more than one operator and the damage attributable to each operator is not reasonably separable, the operators involved shall be jointly and severally liable for such damage. However, the liability of any one operator shall not exceed the limit laid down in Article III.2. In the case of a nuclear incident where the nuclear damage arises out of or results from nuclear fuel or radioactive products or waste of more than one nuclear ship of the same operator, that operator shall be liable in respect of each ship up to the limit laid down in Article III.3. In case of joint and several liability, and subject to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article: (a) Each operator shall have a right of contribution against the others in proportion to the fault attaching to each of them: (b) Where circumstances are such that the degree of fault cannot be apportioned, the total liability shall be borne in equal parts.Article VIII No liability under this Convention shall attach to an operator in respect to nuclear damage caused by a nuclear incident directly due to an act of war, hostilities, civil war or insurrection.Article IX The sums provided by insurance, by other financial security or by State indemnification in conformity with paragraph 2 of Article III shall be exclusively available for compensation due under this Convention.Article X 1. Any action for compensation shall be brought, at the option of the claimant, either before the courts of the licensing State or before the courts of the Contracting State or States in whose territory nuclear damage has been sustained.2. If the licensing State has been or might be called upon to ensure the payment of claims for compensation in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article III of this Convention, it may intervene as party in any proceedings brought against the operator.3. Any immunity from legal processes pursuant to rules of national or international law shall be waived with respect to duties or obligations arising under, or for the purpose of, this Convention. Nothing in this Convention shall make warships or other State-owned or State-operated ships on non-commercial service liable to arrest, attachment or seizure or confer jurisdiction in respect of warships on the courts of any foreign State.Article XI 1. When, having regard to the likelihood of any claims arising out of a nuclear incident exceeding the amount specified in Article III of this Convention, a court of the licensing State, at the request of the operator, a claimant or the licensing State, so certifies, the operator or the licensing State shall make that amount available in that court to pay any such claims; that amount shall be regarded as constituting the limitation fund in respect of that incident.2. The amount may be made available for the purposes of the preceding paragraph by payment into court or by the provision of security or guarantees sufficient to satisfy the court that the money will be available when required to meet any established claim.3. After the fund has been constituted in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article the court of the licensing State shall be exclusively competent to determine all matters relating to the apportionment and distribution of the fund.4. (a) A final judgment entered by a court having jurisdiction under Article X shall be recognised in the territory of any other Contracting State, except: (i) where the judgment was obtained by fraud; or (ii) the operator was not given a fair opportunity to present his case, (b) A final judgment which is recognized shall, upon being presented for enforcement in accordance with the formalities required by the law of the Contracting State where enforcement is sought, be enforceable as if it were a judgment of a court of that State, (c) The merits of a claim on which the judgment has been given shall not be subject to further proceedings.5. (a) If a person who is a national of a Contracting State, other than the operator, has paid compensation for nuclear damage under an International Convention or under the law of a non-Contracting State, such person shall, up to the amount which he has paid, acquired by subrogation the rights which the person so compensated would have enjoyed under this Convention. However, no rights shall be so acquired by any person if and to the extent that the operator has a right of recourse or contribution against such person under this Convention; (b) If a limitation fund has been set up and (i) the operator has paid, prior to its being set up, compensation for nuclear damage; or (ii) the operator has paid, after it has been set up, compensation for nuclear damage under an International Convention or the law of a non-Contracting State, he shall be entitled to recover from the fund, up to the amount which he has paid, the amount which the person so compensated would have obtained in the distribution of the fund; (c) If no limitation fund is set up, nothing in this Convention shall preclude an operator, who has paid compensation for nuclear damage out of funds other than those provided pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article III, from recovering from the person providing financial security under paragraph 2 of Article III or from the licensing State, up to the amount he has paid, the sum which the person so compensated would have obtained under this Convention; (d) In this paragraph the expression “a national of a Contracting State” shall include a Contracting State or any of its constituent subdivisions or a partnership or any public or private body whether corporate or not established in a Contracting State.6. Where no fund has been constituted under the provisions of this Article, the licensing State shall adopt such measures as are necessary to ensure that adequate sums provided by it or by insurance or other financial security in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article III, shall be available for the satisfaction of any claim established by a judgment of a court of any other Contracting State which would be recognised under paragraph 4 of this Article; the sums shall be made available, at the option of the claimant, either in the licensing State or in the Contracting State in which the damage was sustained or in the Contracting State in which the claimant is habitually resident.7. After the limitation fund has been constituted in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article or, where no such fund has been constituted, if the sums provided by the licensing State, or by insurance, or other financial security are available in accordance with paragraph 6 of this Article to meet a claim for compensation, the claimant shall not be entitled to exercise any right against any other asset of the operator in respect of his claim for nuclear damage and any bail or security (other than security for costs) given by or on behalf of that operator in any Contracting State shall be released.Article XII 1. The Contracting States undertake to adopt such measures as are necessary to ensure implementation of the provisions of this Convention, including any appropriate measures for the prompt and equitable distribution of the sums available for compensation for nuclear damage.2. The Contracting States undertake to adopt such measures as are necessary to ensure that insurance and reinsurance premiums and sums provided by insurance, reinsurance or other financial security, or provided by them in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article III, shall be freely transferable into the currency of the Contracting State in which the damage was sustained, of the Contracting State in which the claimant is habitually resident or, as regards insurance and reinsurance premiums and payments, in the currencies specified in the insurance or reinsurance contract.3. This Convention shall be applied without discrimination based upon nationality, domicile or residence.Article XIII This Convention applies to nuclear damage caused by a nuclear incident occurring in any part of the world and involving the nuclear fuel of, or radioactive products or waste produced in, a nuclear ship flying the flag of a Contracting State.Article XIV This Convention shall supersede any International Conventions in force or open for signature, ratification or accession at the date on which this Convention is opened for signature, but only to the extent that such Conventions would be in conflict with it; however, nothing in this Article shall affect the obligations of Contracting States to non-Contracting States arising under such International Conventions.Article XV 1. Each Contracting State undertakes to take all measures necessary to prevent a nuclear ship flying its flag from being operated without a licence or authority granted by it.2. In the event of nuclear damage involving the nuclear fuel of, or radioactive products or waste produced in, a nuclear ship flying the flag of a Contracting State, the operation of which was not at the time of the nuclear incident licensed or authorized by such Contracting State, the owner of the nuclear ship at the time of the nuclear incident shall be deemed to be the operator of the nuclear ship for all the purposes of this Convention, except that his liability shall not be limited in amount.3. In such an event, the Contracting State whose flag the nuclear ship flies shall be deemed to be the licensing State for all the purposes of this Convention and shall, in particular, be liable for compensation for victims in accordance with the obligations imposed on a licensing State by Article III and up to the limit laid down therein.4. Each Contracting State undertakes not to grant a licence or other authority to operate a nuclear ship flying the flag of another State.However, nothing in this paragraph shall prevent a Contracting State from implementing the requirements of its national law concerning the operation of a nuclear ship within its internal waters and territorial seas.Article XVI This Convention shall apply to a nuclear ship from the date of her launching. Between her launching and the time she is authorized to fly a flag, the nuclear ship shall be deemed to be operated by the owner and to be flying the flag of the State in which she was built.Article XVII Nothing in this Convention shall affect any right which a Contracting State may have under international law to deny access to its waters and harbours to nuclear ships licensed by another Contracting State, even when it has formally complied with all the provisions of this Convention.Article XVIII An action for compensation for nuclear damage shall be brought against the operator; it may also be brought against the insurer or any person other than the licensing State who has provided financial security to the operator pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article III, if the right to bring an action against the insurer or such other person is provided under the applicable national law.Article XIX Notwithstanding the termination of this Convention or the termination of its application to any Contracting State pursuant to Article XXVII, the provisions of the Convention shall continue to apply with respect to any nuclear damage caused by a nuclear incident involving the nuclear fuel of, or radioactive products or waste produced in, a nuclear ship licensed or otherwise authorized for operation by any Contracting State prior to the date of such termination, provided the nuclear incident occurred prior to the date of such termination or, in the event of a nuclear incident occurring subsequent to the date of such termination, prior to the expiry of a period of twenty-five years after the date of such licensing or other authorization to operate such ship.Article XX Without prejudice to Article X any dispute between two or more Contracting Parties concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention which cannot be settled through negotiation, shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration. If within six months from the date of the request for arbitration the Parties are unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, any one of those Parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice by request in conformity with the Statute of the Court.Article XXI 1. Each Contracting Party may at the time of signature or ratification of this Convention or accession thereto, declare that it does not consider itself bound by Article XX of the Convention. The other Contracting Parties shall not be bound by this Article with respect to any Contracting Party having made such a reservation.2. Any Contracting Party having made a reservation in accordance with paragraph 1 may at any time withdraw this reservation by notification to the Belgian Government.Article XXII This Convention shall be open for signature by the States represented at the eleventh session (1961-1962) of the Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Law.Article XXIII This Convention shall be ratified and the instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Belgian Government.Article XXIV 1. This Convention shall come into force three months after the deposit of an instrument of ratification by at least one licensing State and one other State.2. This Convention shall come into force, in respect of each signatory State which ratifies it after its entry into force as provided in paragraph 1 of this Article, three months after the date of deposit of the instrument of ratification of that State.Article XXV 1. States Members of the United Nations, Members of the specialized agencies and of the International Atomic Energy Agency not represented at the eleventh session of the Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Law, may accede to this Convention.2. The instruments of accession shall be deposited with the Belgian Government.3. The Convention shall come into force in respect of the acceding State three months after the date of 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 XXIV.Article XXVI 1. A conference for the purpose of revising this Convention shall be convened by the Belgian Government and the International Atomic Energy Agency after the Convention has been in force five years.2. Such a conference shall also be convened by the Belgian Government and the International Atomic Energy Agency before the expiry of this term or thereafter, if one-third of the Contracting States express a desire to that effect.Article XXVII 1. Any Contracting State may denounce this Convention by notification to the Belgian Government at any time after the first revision Conference held in accordance with the provisions of Article XXVI.1.2. This denunciation shall take effect one year after the date on which the notification has been received by the Belgian Government.Article XXVIII The Belgian Government shall notify the States represented at the eleventh session of the Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Law, and the States acceding to this Convention, of the following: 1. Signatures, ratifications and accessions received in accordance with Articles XXII, XXIII and XXV.2. The date on which the Convention will come into force in accordance with Article XXIV.3. Denunciations received in accordance with Article XXVII.IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned Plenipotentiaries, whose credentials have been found in order, have signed this Convention.DONE at Brussels, this twenty-fifth day of May, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-two, in the English, French, Russian and Spanish languages in a single copy, which shall remain deposited in the archives of the Belgian Government which shall issue certified copies.In case of any disparity in the texts, the English and French versions shall be authentic.

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