The 1986 accident at Chernobyl demonstrated that there was a need to increase the amounts of liability and to broaden the types of damage that were provided for in the existing nuclear liability regime. In response to that need, a major international modernisation effort was undertaken, with the intent of ensuring that victims in all countries affected by a nuclear accident would be accorded equitable compensation for damage suffered. Within a little more than ten years, several significant initiatives had been taken, the most recent of which was the revision of both the Paris Convention and the Brussels Supplementary Convention to the Paris Convention (Brussels Supplementary Convention or BSC). On 12 February 2004 the Contracting Parties to these conventions adopted the Protocol to Amend the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy of 29 July 1960, as amended. The 2004 Protocol has not entered into force yet.
Under the revised Paris Convention, the amount of a nuclear operator's liability is increased to an amount not less than EUR 700 million. In addition, the revised Paris Convention will officially recognise, for the first time, that a State with an unlimited liability regime may participate in the scheme established by the Convention.
Paris Convention States may continue to fix reduced liability amounts for low-risk nuclear installations and transport activities, but the minimum amounts will be raised to EUR 70 million for low-risk installations and EUR 80 million for transport activities.
Operators will still be required to financially secure their liability, but for States with unlimited liability regimes, that security must equal either EUR 700 million or a reduced liability amount, whichever is applicable. Parties to the revised Paris Convention will also be required to ensure the payment of nuclear damage claims where the operator's financial security is unavailable or insufficient, up to the liability amount specified in the Convention.
|Operator's liability amounts under the revised Paris Convention|
|Before revision||After revision|
|Basic liability or "reference amount"||SDR* 15 million maximum||EUR 700 million minimum|
|Reduced liability amounts|
|Transport||SDR 5 million minimum||EUR 80 million minimum|
|Low-risk installations||SDR 5 million minimum||EUR 70 million minimum|
The revised Paris Convention will cover a broader range of damage than is currently the case. In addition to personal injury and property damage, the revised Convention includes certain types of economic loss, the cost of measures to reinstate a significantly impaired environment, loss of income resulting from that impaired environment and the cost of preventive measures, including loss or damage caused by such measures.
The revised Paris Convention will also apply to a larger number of nuclear installations, including those that are in the course of being decommissioned and all nuclear installations for the disposal of nuclear substances. Nevertheless, Paris Convention States may exclude a particular disposal facility in the post-closure phase from the application of the Convention, where it no longer poses a significant risk and is therefore no longer under active surveillance.
Under the currently applicable Paris Convention, a nuclear incident must occur in the territory of a Contracting Party and damage must be suffered there for the Convention to apply. Under the 2004 Protocol, the Paris Convention will also apply to nuclear damage suffered in a non-Convention State (including its territories and maritime zones) if (a) it is a party to the Vienna Convention and the 1988 Joint Protocol, or (b) it has no nuclear installations or (c) its nuclear liability legislation affords equivalent reciprocal benefits and is based on principles identical to those contained in the Paris Convention.
Under the revised Paris Convention, prescription and extinction periods for nuclear damage claims will be extended to 30 years for actions in respect of loss of life and personal injury. Longer periods are possible under certain circumstances.
The revised Paris Convention will recognize the concerns of coastal States which allow maritime shipments of nuclear substances through their waters by including provisions to ensure that where a nuclear incident occurs in the exclusive economic zone of a Paris Convention state, jurisdiction over claims for nuclear damage arising from that incident shall lie only with the courts of that coastal state.
*The unit of account used in the Paris Convention is the Special Drawing Right (SDR), a unit of account defined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) based upon a basket of key international currencies. The currency value of the SDR is calculated daily and the valuation basket is reviewed and adjusted every five years.
Read more on the 2004 Protocol to Amend the Paris Convention on our Multilateral agreements website.
The Brussels Supplementary Convention establishes a scheme to provide compensation supplementary to that required by the Paris Convention. The BSC is open only to contracting parties to the Paris Convention.
The Convention on the Establishment of a Security Control in the Field of Nuclear Energy ("Security Control Convention") and the Protocol on the Tribunal established by the Security Control Convention ("Protocol on the Tribunal") were adopted on 20 December 1957. The Convention came into force on 22 July 1959 and the first judges were appointed on 1 January 1960. The implementation of the security control system (designed to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons) has been suspended since the 1970s in order to avoid duplication with similar systems established by Euratom and the International Atomic Energy Agency. For the time being, the jurisdiction of the Tribunal has been limited to resolving differences concerning the interpretation or application of the above-mentioned Paris and Brussels Conventions.
The Paris Convention establishes a nuclear liability and compensation regime to compensate victims of a nuclear accident. The PC is open to OECD member countries as of right and non-member countries with the consent of all the contracting parties to the Paris Convention.