This article compares the international regime that creates liability for damages for oil spilled into the sea with the most significant national law on oil pollution liability, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) enacted by the USA, which remains outside the international regime. US law is particularly relevant at this time because the Deepwater Horizon litigation growing out of the 2010 spill by a BP-owned oil concession is the first big case under the OPA 90 law. The US oil liability regime is much broader and more comprehensive than the international regime, which is limited to oil spills from ships carrying oil as cargo in bulk (oil tankers). This deficiency highlights the need for a more comprehensive oil pollution liability regime, since the current international regime would not have covered the Deepwater Horizon incident. The international regime and US law are markedly different also with respect to the types of damages recoverable, the procedure involved to file a claim, and various limitations on liability. The pending Deepwater Horizon case, which is now at an early stage in the US District Court in Louisiana, may last many years and may provide landmark rulings on many controversial and important issues, such as liability for pure economic loss damages and for damages to natural resources.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Schoenbaum: Liability for Damages in Oil Spill Accidents: Evaluating the USA and International Law Regimes in the Light of Deepwater Horizon
Thomas J. Schoenbaum (George Washington Univ. - Law) has published Liability for Damages in Oil Spill Accidents: Evaluating the USA and International Law Regimes in the Light of Deepwater Horizon (Journal of Environmental Law, Vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 395-416, Nov. 2012). Here's the abstract: