International Maritime Conventions Volume II: Navigation, Securities, Limitation of Liability


International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Collision Between Vessels, 1910


The international unification of the law on collision at sea was first considered in connection with the apportionment of the liability between the colliding ships in view of the conflicting criteria in force in the various countries. From the report presented by Louis Franck to the 1899 London Conference,1 it appears that discussions on this subject were held during the Congress of Commercial Law held in Antwerp in 1885, and were then continued at the Conference of the Institute of International Law held in Lausanne in 1888, at the Congress on Commercial Law held in Genoa in 1892,2 and at the Conference of the International Law Association held in Brussels in 1895. In a speech made at the inaugural session of the Association Belge pour l’Unification du Droit Maritime on 22 November 1896,3 Antoine Franck explained the reasons for the unification of the law on collision at sea, describing the various conflicting systems in force in the world with respect to the apportionment of liability, and strongly supporting the principle of the apportionment of liability on the basis of the gravity of the fault. Immediately after its foundation, the Comité Maritime International (CMI) chose collision at sea as its first subject and, in preparation for the Conference to be held in Antwerp in September 1898, distributed to the national associations that had already been constituted4 the following questionnaire:5

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