EU Shipping Law

Page 1392


Maritime safety: casualty and accident investigation

A. Introduction

30.001 The purpose of this chapter is to consider the investigation of maritime casualties.

B. Investigation of maritime casualties generally

30.002 The investigation of maritime casualties is a very important aspect of any maritime regime. Such investigations enable the collation of information as to what happened so as to ensure, in so far as possible, that comparable events are not repeated. These investigations can lead to palpable results such as the saving of lives and property. So much of European Union (“EU”) shipping law is about direct prevention of casualties (e.g. the safety and environmental measures) but there is one measure which addresses the investigation of casualties: this is Directive 2009/18. As the first recital to Directive 2009/18 recognises: a “high general level of safety should be maintained in maritime transport in Europe and every effort should be made to reduce the number of marine casualties and incidents” while the second recital to Directive 2009/18 draws the link to investigations: the “expeditious holding of technical investigations into marine casualties improves maritime safety, as it helps to prevent the recurrence of such casualties resulting in loss of life, loss of ships and pollution of the marine environment”.

C. National and international legal dimension on maritime accident investigation

30.003 Traditionally, maritime accident investigation has been outside the remit of the EU. Member States have conducted their investigations without an EU dimension. This right of coastal States to conduct their own investigations is implicit in Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”)1 which provides:

Legal status of the territorial sea, of the air space over the territorial sea and of its bed and subsoil

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