2016/04 – Prestige Incident

On 26 January 2016 the Spanish Supreme Court published its judgment in proceedings arising from the incident off Spain in November 2002.

Overturning the decision of the trial court, the Supreme Court decided that the master, Captain Mangouras, was guilty of the crime of reckless damage of the environment.  On the basis of that decision it imposed civil liability on the master (depriving him of his statutory immunity from suit), on the owners without limit, and on their P&I Club up to US$1bn, as well as on the 1992 IOPC Fund.

Detention of the master of the Prestige prompted many protests in the international maritime community.The Prestige sinking in the Atlantic after being refused access to sheltered waters off Spain in 2002

These decisions of the Supreme Court are based on conclusions of fact which appear incompatible with those of the trial court, which had conducted a hearing lasting nine months, and it is subject to further appeal.

The insurance industry has expressed various concerns about the judgment.  The IOPC Fund has described it as “unfortunate”, and has expressed the view that certain aspects of it are contrary to the international conventions which govern compensation for oil pollution from tankers.

For further details see:

Prestige – Judgment of Spanish Supreme Court – Note by International Group of P & I Associations,


Prestige – Note by 1992 Fund Secretariat

both submitted to the 1992 Fund on 30 March 2016.