Liability for Collisions under Libyan Maritime Law

By Dr. Mohamed Karbal,  Managing Partner at Karbal & Co.

It is a known fact that the Libyan people are still struggling to establish a strong central government in order to fulfill the hopes and aspirations that inspired the revolution of February 17, 2011.

At present, there are two parliaments and two governments claiming to be the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. In order to resolve the dispute, both the United Nations and the European Union are bringing the two sides to the negotiation table hoping to establish one internationally recognized government to bring peace and security to Libya with the support of the international community.

The strategic location of Libya and its tremendous wealth give Libya an important status for the world, most notably to the EU.

Evidently, peace and economic development will soon come to Libya and that will lead to security and prosperity, not only in Libya, but in the world especially Europe. Trade will flourish and the part of the Mediterranean adjacent to Libyan ports shall be frequently visited by vessels. This leads to the topic of this article which discusses vessels collision as regulated by Libyan Maritime Law.

Although the effects of certain collisions may not lead to sinking, collisions may still cause adverse consequences, including but not limited to, fires and explosions, loss of cargo and damage to the vessel, marine pollution, and death or injury sustained by individuals, such as members of the crew.

The repercussions of the collision may cost those who are held liable, such as shipowners or insurance companies (P & I clubs) thousands, even millions of dollars in losses depending on the severity of the damage. One of the biggest concerns is how each party implicated will assume liability and how loss will be allocated amongst the parties.

The purpose of this article is to address the legal issues surrounding fault and liability that may arise from a maritime collision that occurs within Libyan waters by using the applicable legislation, the Libyan Maritime Law of 1953.

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