A recent decision by the Rotterdam Court regarding a major oil spill in the port of Rotterdam emphasises the importance of assessing at an early stage which liability regime applies when a party seeks to limit its exposure to claims in the event of an oil spill at sea. The court held that in procedures concerning limitation of liability, it is the responsibility of the party seeking to rely on limitation to provide all of the information available at an early stage.
The Supreme Court has reconfirmed the right to limit liability under Dutch law, even in personal injury cases. It held that limitation as such is not a violation of the human right to protection of property under the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, and that it is nationally and internationally considered necessary that the liability of the carrier is limited or may be limited in the event of a passenger's death or personal injury.
With two bills recently submitted to Parliament, the Netherlands is preparing to adopt the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea (the Rotterdam Rules) into Dutch law. This legislative effort is a clear sign of support in respect of the rules and will be appreciated by those convinced that the rules are the way forward for the carriage of goods in this age of e-commerce.
The Rotterdam District Court recently ruled that a tank storage provider could not invoke the exoneration clause of the General Conditions for Tank Storage in the Netherlands (the VOTOB conditions), which are frequently used by Dutch tank terminals and storage companies. The decision is relevant, as it appears to contravene the rather strict approach adopted in Dutch case law in relation to successfully setting aside a VOTOB exoneration clause.
The Dutch courts recently confirmed that a party which is arresting a vessel has no obligation to pay berth fees or any other associated costs during the period that the vessel remains under arrest. This decision is notable, as although it is in line with the traditional understanding, it is one of few decisions to have been issued on this matter in the Netherlands. It will also likely be regarded with interest in other jurisdictions, where different rules concerning the obligations of arresting parties apply.