LLMC: Increases in liability limits


Published: 3 February 2015

Shipowners' limits of liability under the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims 1976 (LLMC) were last increased under the 1996 Protocol which entered into force in 2004.

The 1996 Protocol also enables states to increase limits by means of the "tacit acceptance" procedure. States made use of this possibility in April 2012 when the Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organisation adopted increases of 51%. The cost of bunkers spills was the foremost concern voiced by states during the revision process.

The new limits will take effect on 8 June 2015. LLMC limits are based on gross tonnage with two categories of claim, one for loss of life or personal injury and the other for the remaining types of claim falling within the scope of LLMC (usually referred to as property claims). More information about the increases in the property limits is contained in the table below.

The effect of the new limits can be illustrated as follows:

  1996 Limits 2012 Limits
Handysize 15,000 gt USD 8.8 USD 13.3
Panamax 36,000 gt USD 19,9 m USD 30.1 m
Capesize 150,000 gt USD 57.3 USD 86.4 m

Figures are approximate

The great majority of cases handled by P&I Clubs fall well within LLMC limits. However the limits do play a role in a small number of casualties which give rise to high value claims. It is not surprising that the IMO has decided to increase the limits set in 1996.

While an increase in limits does have an impact on shipowners and their insurers, it is also important that the LLMC is applied properly and consistently in all states where it applies and that, in the rare cases where limits are relied upon, they are upheld by the courts.

The increase in the limits is also relevant for insurers who provide blue cards under the Bunkers Convention 2001 and the Wreck Removal Convention 2007 (which enters into force on 14 Aril 2015). These Conventions provide the insurer with a right to limit liability towards third party claimants in all cases to a limit calculated in accordance with LLMC 1976 as amended. 


The limits are expressed in Special Drawing Rights which currently amounts to approximately USD 1.425.

GT 1996 2012
Up to 2,000 1,000,000 1,425,000 1,510,000 2,152,000
2,001 to 30,000 400 per gt 570 per gt 604 per gt 860 per gt
30,001 to 70,000 300 per gt 428 per gt 453 per gt 645 per gt
70,001+ 200 per gt 285 per gt 302 per gt 430 per gt
  • Rates fluctuate. Official conversion rates can be found on the IMF Website.