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Italy: Civil Liability of Port Pilots

(Dec. 30, 2016) On January 3, 2017, new legislation on the civil liability of port pilots will enter into effect in Italy.  (Law No. 230 of December 1, 2016, Amendments to the Navigation Code Concerning the Civil Liability of Port Pilots and Technical-Nautical Services (Law No. 230), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).)  Port pilots are responsible for suggesting routes and assisting vessel commanders in following those routes.  (Royal Decree No. 327 of March 30, 1942, Code of Navigation, art. 92, ¶ 1, NORMATTIVA (in Italian).)

The new legislation amends the Code of Navigation regarding the liability of port pilots for damages caused by their actions during the exercise of these functions.  (Law No. 230, art. 1(1).)  In particular, pilots become civilly liable when damage caused to a vessel, persons, or things arises from inexact information provided by a pilot in determining a vessel’s route into or out of a port.  (Id. art. 1(1).)  Unless fraud or serious fault occur, the pilot’s civil liability is capped at €1 million (about US$1.043 million) for each event, independent of the number of victims of the damage or the type of disaster involved.  (Id. art. 1(2).)  The pilot’s civil liability is without prejudice to the ship owner’s liability.  (Id. art. 1(2).)

Mandatory Insurance

The new legislation provides that each pilot must contract for liability insurance to cover the civil liability derived from damages caused by his or her piloting activities.  (Id. art. 1(3).)  A copy of the insurance contract must be maintained at the headquarters of the pilots’ association where the pilot is registered.  (Id. art. 1(3).)   Pilots may not obtain their licenses to exercise their activities or may lose their licenses if they lack sufficient insurance. (Id. art. 1(3).)

Update of the Code of Navigation

The new legislation directs the government to issue provisions on maritime nagivation aimed at updating the existing Navigation Code.  Among the measures to be adopted are those on the provision of sureties by pilots before they undertake their piloting activities; on conditioning the admission of pilot applicants until they notify the authorities that they have the requisite insurance; and on implementing the new legislation with regard to pilots’ insurance.  (Id. art. 2.)