Shipowners routinely give buyers in demolition sales complete freedom to deal with ships as they please following a sale, but do so at their peril. Shipowners are generators of waste under the Basel Convention and other laws and remain liable as such following a sale. Further, shipowners and those assisting them in such transactions may also incur liabilities in tort to third parties in connection with shipyard worker injuries and environmental damage occurring after a sale, as noted in a recent High Court judgment.
International conventions and local regulations combine to create a complex legal regime, which is often overlooked. The sale of a ship or rig to an intermediate buyer, which then sells the asset on to a shipbreaking facility, will not necessarily insulate the original owner from future liability or reputational damage. This article addresses a number of frequently asked questions which owners and other parties involved in transboundary movements of marine assets for recycling may find helpful.