Freezing order made against the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund
Mr. Justice Hamblen has delivered judgment granting freezing order relief against the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund. The Fund, which is an international legal organisation created pursuant to the Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution 1971, claimed blanket immunity from the grant of freezing order relief under the International Oil Pollution Fund (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1979. The Judge rejected the Fund’s immunity argument. In so doing he held that effect had to be given to the terms of the above statutory instrument, regardless of whether that meant that the UK would be in breach of its international obligations (under a Headquarters Agreement between the UK and the Fund).
The freezing order was sought in support of claims by the Gard P&I Club against the Fund arising out of an oil spill in Venezuela in 1997. The court held that Gard has a good arguable case in respect of its claim against the Fund in England. The injunction application was prompted by an impending decision by the Fund to dissipate its assets in advance of winding itself up.