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Web alert: Australia increases penalties again for oil pollution fines

04 December 2015

New legislative amendments have again increased the penalty units which apply to fines for a range of Commonwealth maritime offences. The value of penalty units has now been increased from AUD170 to AUD180. This follows many of the Australian states which have similarly increased their legislation, which applies to pollution incidents within 3 nautical miles of the coast.

Members (including charterer members) now face a maximum fine under Commonwealth legislation of AUD18 million (USD13.2 million) for discharging oil or oily mixtures into the sea. A full list of penalties applicable in the Commonwealth and States has been prepared by our correspondent, HWL Ebsworth. See attachment to the right.

It should be remembered that the discharge of oil into Commonwealth waters is a strict liability offence for Owners, Master and Charterers and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority will typically require security for the maximum possible fine, even for apparently innocuous or temporary pollution. See our previous article on this topic.

The increase in the value of penalty units is applicable for any incidents occurring after 1 July 2015 and will not apply retrospectively to offences committed before this date.

Members should consult with their usual club contact should they have any queries.