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Conventions on nuclear liability

The present multilateral nuclear liability regime is based on various international conventions. Germany has acceded to the following:

  • Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy of 29 July 1960 (Paris Convention), as amended by the Additional Protocol of 28 January 1964 and by the Protocol of 16 November 1982 (consolidated version dated 15 July 1985 promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette [Bundesgesetzblatt] II, 963, 964)
  • Joint Protocol Relating to the Application of the Vienna Convention and the Paris Convention, dated 21 September 1988 (Federal Law Gazette [Bundesgesetzblatt] 2001 II, 202)
  • Convention of 31 January 1963 Supplementary to the Paris Convention of 29 July 1960, as amended by the additional Protocol of 28 January 1964 and by the Protocol of 16 November 1982 (Brussels Supplementary Convention) (consolidated version dated 15 July 1985 promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette [Bundesgesetzblatt] II, 963, 970).

Paris Convention

The Paris Convention establishes various principles which are now recognised worldwide as appropriate for the purpose of regulating liability in respect of nuclear risk. They include the following:

  • The liability of the operators of nuclear installations is absolute (i.e. irrespective of fault);
  • Liability rests exclusively with the operators of the nuclear installations;
  • The operator’s liability includes liability for third party damage during transport;
  • Exemption from liability applies only in certain specified circumstances, mainly force majeure (e.g. warfare);
  • Liability for third party damage is, as a rule, limited in amount;
  • The operator is obliged to maintain insurance for damage to third parties;
  • Determination of jurisdiction: this generally lies with the courts of the Contracting Party on whose territory the nuclear incident occurred;
  • Non-discrimination of all victims in a State Party to the Paris Convention, irrespective of nationality, domicile or residence.

Brussels Supplementary Convention

The Brussels Supplementary Convention (Federal Law Gazette [Bundesgesetzblatt] 1976 II, 310, 319; 1985 II, 690) is ancillary to the Paris Convention; only State Parties to the Paris Convention may accede to the Supplementary Convention. It is supplementary in the sense that its purpose is to mobilise additional funds to compensate damage resulting from a nuclear incident where the funds provided by the liable operator under the Paris Convention prove to be insufficient. The additional compensation provided under the Supplementary Convention is available solely to victims in State Parties to this Convention.

Implementation status

Germany has signed both the Protocol of 12 February 2004 amending the Paris Convention 1960/1982 (PÜ-2004, Federal Law Gazette [Bundesgesetzblatt] 2008 II, 904) and the Protocol of 12 February 2004 amending the Brussels Supplementary Convention 1963/1982 (BZÜ-2004, Federal Law Gazette [Bundesgesetzblatt] 2008 II, 920) and fulfilled their respective ratification requirements at domestic level in 2008. The purpose of each of these amending protocols is to substantially increase the liability and compensation amounts payable in the event of a nuclear accident. However, for these amending protocols to enter into force, a specified number of State Parties, stipulated in the Conventions, must have deposited their instruments of ratification. This figure is expected to be reached by 1 January 2022.