This Thesis looks into the legal Authority for investigation and possible prosecution of seafarers in the event of a Maritime Accident in Norwegian waters, the legal authority in Norwegian Law in relation to International Legislation and Guidelines, i.e. both mandatory and recommendatory, and what trends can be seen in relation to the treatment and possible criminalization of seafarers in the event of a Maritime Accident, both in Norwegian waters and jurisdiction and internationally. Additionally, it will discuss what driving forces are present in the further development of relevant legislation within this field. It includes an introduction to the aftermath of a Maritime Accident in Norwegian Waters, with regards to investigations, investigating parties and under which legal authorities they operate.
The Full City case is used as an example of a Maritime Accident, as a current event raising some questions regarding seafarer’s rights and fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a Maritime Accident. Otherwise, International legislation, guidelines and ongoing work is presented with the purpose of discussing current and future challenges within the shipping industry and especially for the seafarers.
There are various responsibilities of the vessels shore-based Management, which raises the question on whether the Company or the seafarers should take the blame for a Maritime Accident. Additionally, some existing conflicting goals between the Company and the seafarers are presented in the Thesis. The possible risks of self-incrimination, through the documentation required through the ISM Code, as well as recent legislation in some jurisdictions related to requirements of documentation and statements are discussed in relation to preventative measures required, such as statutory inspections and certification and the legal and practical significance of such as a Maritime Accident occurs.
The thesis also contemplates possible contradictions between national and unilateral legislation (EC Directives) and internationally acknowledged provisions (UNCLOS, MARPOL) related to what constitutes a criminal offense and what penalties are available. Penalties shall always have a general deterring effect; however this is somewhat questionable in cases where the Company has failed in meeting requirements and taking measures to prevent Maritime Accidents.Recent cases, such as the Full City grounding off Langesund, Norway, in light of Accidents with larger environmental impact; e.g. the Prestige, the Tasman Spirit and the Exxon Valdez, are presented with the purpose of accounting for the International Initiatives taken (e.g. by the IMO) to ensure Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the event of a Maritime Accident.