Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation
The Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation (CLNI) is based on the model of the Convention on limitation of liability for maritime claims (LLMC). It enables the owners and crew members of vessels and their salvors to set at a given maximum amount the limit of their liability in respect of a large number of claims made in connection with a single incident. This limit depends on the dimensions of the vessel, determined according to criteria that include displacement, propulsion power, dead weight, and the permitted number of passengers in the case of a passenger vessel.
The limits are expressed in special drawing rights (SDR) in order to ensure identical value in all the contracting States. The special drawing right is a unit of account introduced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF); its daily value in euros may be consulted on the IMF’s Internet site at http://www.imf.org.
By offering a better estimate of the liability risk, the monetary limitation of liability puts the insurance market in a better position to offer products in keeping with the risks of inland navigation without such cover constituting an excessive burden for the transport companies.
The limitation of liability may be assured by setting up a fund containing the amount of the limitation or by defensive proceedings. The 1988 CLNI provides that the practicalities of the procedure should be laid down by the contracting Parties.
The 1988 CLNI was adopted on 4 November 1988 and entered into force on 1 June 1997. It was ratified by Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
- Convention of 1988
- Preparatory work:
- Conduct of the Strasbourg Conference
- CCNR Resolution 1988-I-2
- Opening speech by the Secretary General of the CCNR
- Agenda of the Strasbourg Conference
- Rules of procedure of the Strasbourg Conference
- Text of the draft Strasbourg Convention submitted to the Conference
- Briefing by the Secretariat
- Final Act of the Strasbourg Conference
- Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation (CLNI)
- Signature of the instruments adopted by the Strasbourg Conference
- List of participants
The Strasbourg Convention of 2012 on the limitation of liability in inland navigation (CLNI 2012) reiterates much of the content of the 1988 Convention. In 2007 the CLNI 1988 Contracting States decided to embark on a process of revising CLNI 1988 with the aim of making it attractive to other States, particularly by opening up access to States with no direct navigable link with the Rhine and the Moselle, and updating the amounts of the limitation of liability agreed on twenty years earlier.
On 27 September 2012, a Diplomatic Conference convened by the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) concluded the 2012 Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation (CLNI 2012).
The main differences between the two Conventions are as follows:
- CLNI 2012 has a broader geographical field of application, which now extends beyond just the Rhine and the Moselle to include all inland waterways, including the Danube, the Elbe, the Oder and the Sava. Contracting States nevertheless have the possibility of making other arrangements for waterways of no importance for international transport.
- The general limits of liability for claims in respect of physical injury and material damage have been substantially increased, by taking account of inflation and the increases that have been made in the maritime field. The limits have in fact been doubled.
- Limits have been introduced for compensating for damage resulting from the transport of dangerous goods. These are twice the general limits, subject to a minimum of SDR 10 million.
- The amounts of limitation of liability for claims from passengers on passenger vessels have been increased by 66%. The minimum amount has also been increased from SDR 720 000 to SDR 2 million. The provision that the limitation of liability may never exceed SDR 12 million has been deleted.
- A procedure has been introduced to allow the limits to be altered without a new Convention having to be adopted. Under this simplified revision procedure, the CCNR’s Secretary General is to keep a regular check on the extent to which the limits depreciate in general monetary value and submit a proposal for amendment to the Contracting States if depreciation reaches a level of 10%. The proposal would enter into force for Member States 21 months after it notification, unless the proposal is rejected by one-third of the Contracting States within a period of one year from the date of notification.
CLNI 2012 will enter into force once four States have deposited their instruments of ratification and CLNI 1988 has been extinguished.
- Preparatory work:
- Minutes of the diplomatic conference
- Introductory speech by Ms Belliard of the Diplomatic Conference
- Draft of the Revised Convention
- Summary table of the amendments made to the CLNI by the draft revised Convention
- Communication from the Dutch delegation
- Communication from IVR
- Communication from the French delegation
- Communication from the Hungarian delegation
- Proposal for a Declaration by the States Parties to the CLNI
- Communication from the Luxembourg delegation
- Proposal from the Chair of the group of experts
- Communication from the Serbian delegation
- Drafting amendments proposed by the German delegation
- Room paper n° 1
- Final Act
- Presentation: “2012 CLNI 2012 - what has changed”
State of signatures and ratifications of CLNI 2012
The Convention has been deposited with the CCNR’s Secretary General.
It is open for signature by any State from 27 September 2012 and 26 September 2014, at CCNR headquarters.
The CCNR’s Secretary General has been appointed as the Depositary of the 2012 CLNI Convention.
Its entry into force now depends on ratification by at least four States and extinction of the 1988 Strasbourg Convention.
*State which ratified the 1988 Strasbourg Convention
Publications and associated events
- Die Haftungsbeschränkung zwischen CMNI und CLNI
Rechtsanwalt Dr. Martin Fischer, TransportRecht Oktober 2013
- Adoption of the CLNI 2012 - what has changed compared with CLNI 1988?
Cécile Tournaye, TransportRecht Juni 2013
- Intérêt de la CLNI 2012 pour la navigation Intérieure en Europe
Cécile Tournaye, DMF septembre 2013
- Revision of Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation
Dr Anastasiya Kozubovskaya-Pelle, JIML 18 
- La révision de la CLNI : Quelle effectivité dans le contexte européen ?
Cécile Tournaye, CCNR, DMF juillet-août 2011
- Conclusion of the Strasbourg Convention of 2012 on the Limitation of Liability in Inland Navigation (CLNI 2012)