The Liability of Classification Societies


Nicolai Lagoni
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   In order to be able to analyze the liability of Classification societies under English. United States and German law, it is not only necessary to define their scope of activities, to scrutinize their duties and to develop their relevance to the system of maritime safety. The first part of this thesis also provides a brief history of classification and gives an overview of modem challenges to classification societies, which are required to understand the implications of their liability. Besides, in order to facilitate a comprehensive legal analysis, the legal framework in which a classification society acts is thereafter portrayed in relation to both its public and private functions.In order to analyze whether classification societies are liable for their actions, and if so to what extent, this thesis focuses in its second part on German. English and United States law. The liability of these entities towards their contracting parties and towards third parties will be dealt with, both in the performance of private and public functions. The case-law will be analyzed and commented upon. Situations which have not yet been tried shall also be taken into consideration. Furthermore, the implications of a liability of such societies shall be reviewed. One of the main problems of the liability of classification societies is its interrelation with the limited liability of the shipowner. The shipowner can limit his liability, whereas classification societies would be liable to an unlimited extent, despite of not being primarily responsible for the vessel. In an attempt to re-establish a coherent system of liability, the third part of this paper will consider a limitation of the liability of classification societies by way of a European or international regulation. The scope of existing international conventions which limit the liability of parts of the maritime industry will be scrutinized, and the question of whether these laws can be applied or extended to classification societies will be analyzed. And finally, the paper will consider whether there is not only a need for a new regulation but also sufficient justification for it. and what the essential principles of such a regulation should be.

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