The international system for compensating victims of oil pollution damage caused by oil spills from tankers is based on two international treaties adopted as a result of the Torrey Canyon incident which occurred in 1967 off the south coast of the United Kingdom, namely the 1969 Civil Liability Convention and the 1971 Fund Convention. These Conventions have been amended by Protocols in 1992, resulting in two new Conventions (the 1992 Conventions).

The International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds 1971 and 1992 administer the system of compensation created by the Fund Conventions. Over 80 nations are members of the Funds. In the light of the experience gained in recent years from incidents involving the Funds, it would be appropriate to consider whether the objectives of establishing the international regime have been fulfilled and whether the international regime has given adequate protection to victims of oil pollution damage.

The paper also makes comparison between the international regime and the regime created under OPA 90. While there are differences between the two regimes as regards scope of application, funding, and approach in various aspects, there are significant similarities in respect of administration and claims handling. Some of the differences are due to the fact that the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund works within one nation, whereas the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds operate worldwide.

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