Legal and social issues

Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation

CLNI 1988

The Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation (CLNI) is based on the model of the Convention on limitation of liability for maritime claims (LLMC). It enables the owners and crew members of vessels and their salvors to set at a given maximum amount the limit of their liability in respect of a large number of claims made in connection with a single incident. This limit depends on the dimensions of the vessel, determined according to criteria that include displacement, propulsion power, dead weight, and the permitted number of passengers in the case of a passenger vessel.

The limits are expressed in special drawing rights (SDR) in order to ensure identical value in all the contracting States. The special drawing right is a unit of account introduced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF); its daily value in euros may be consulted on the IMF’s Internet site at

By offering a better estimate of the liability risk, the monetary limitation of liability puts the insurance market in a better position to offer products in keeping with the risks of inland navigation without such cover constituting an excessive burden for the transport companies.

The limitation of liability may be assured by setting up a fund containing the amount of the limitation or by defensive proceedings. The 1988 CLNI provides that the practicalities of the procedure should be laid down by the contracting Parties.

The 1988 CLNI was adopted on 4 November 1988 and entered into force on 1 June 1997. It was ratified by Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. It was denounced on 7 June 2018 by Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, to take effect on 1 July 2019.

  • Convention of 1988 161 KB
  • Preparatory work:
    • Summary 61 KB 60 KB 67 KB
    • Conduct of the Strasbourg Conference 227 KB 201 KB 206 KB
    • CCNR Resolution 1988-I-2 72 KB 71 KB 73 KB
    • Opening speech by the Secretary General of the CCNR 145 KB 152 KB 190 KB
    • Agenda of the Strasbourg Conference 63 KB 68 KB 76 KB
    • Rules of procedure of the Strasbourg Conference 170 KB 172 KB 198 KB
    • Text of the draft Strasbourg Convention submitted to the Conference 2592 KB 2568 KB
    • Briefing by the Secretariat 695 KB 633 KB 674 KB
    • Final Act of the Strasbourg Conference 191 KB 190 KB 194 KB
    • Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation (CLNI) 3373 KB 3373 KB 3373 KB
    • Signature of the instruments adopted by the Strasbourg Conference 51 KB 47 KB 58 KB
    • List of participants 185 KB

CLNI 2012

The Strasbourg Convention of 2012 on the limitation of liability in inland navigation (CLNI 2012) reiterates much of the content of the 1988 Convention. In 2007 the CLNI 1988 Contracting States decided to embark on a process of revising CLNI 1988 with the aim of making it attractive to other States, particularly by opening up access to States with no direct navigable link with the Rhine and the Moselle, and updating the amounts of the limitation of liability agreed on twenty years earlier.

On 27 September 2012, a Diplomatic Conference convened by the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) concluded the 2012 Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation (CLNI 2012).

The main differences between the two Conventions are as follows:

  • CLNI 2012 has a broader geographical field of application, which now extends beyond just the Rhine and the Moselle to include all inland waterways, including the Danube, the Elbe, the Oder and the Sava. Contracting States nevertheless have the possibility of making other arrangements for waterways of no importance for international transport.
  • The general limits of liability for claims in respect of physical injury and material damage have been substantially increased, by taking account of inflation and the increases that have been made in the maritime field. The limits have in fact been doubled.
  • Limits have been introduced for compensating for damage resulting from the transport of dangerous goods. These are twice the general limits, subject to a minimum of SDR 10 million.
  • The amounts of limitation of liability for claims from passengers on passenger vessels have been increased by 66%. The minimum amount has also been increased from SDR 720 000 to SDR 2 million. The provision that the limitation of liability may never exceed SDR 12 million has been deleted.
  • A procedure has been introduced to allow the limits to be altered without a new Convention having to be adopted. Under this simplified revision procedure, the CCNR’s Secretary General is to keep a regular check on the extent to which the limits depreciate in general monetary value and submit a proposal for amendment to the Contracting States if depreciation reaches a level of 10%. The proposal would enter into force for Member States 21 months after it notification, unless the proposal is rejected by one-third of the Contracting States within a period of one year from the date of notification.

CLNI 2012 will enter into force once four States have deposited their instruments of ratification and CLNI 1988 has been extinguished. After Serbia in 2013, Luxembourg in 2014, and Hungary in 2018, on 7 June 2018, the Netherlands deposited their instrument of acceptance of the CLNI 2012 (see status of signatures and ratifications of the CLNI 2012). Moreover, on the same day, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg notified their denunciation of the CLNI 1988, to take effect 1 July 2019.

  • Convention of 2012 41 KB 40 KB 41 KB 39 KB
  • Notification aux Etats contractants de la révision des limites de responsabilité 222 KB 188 KB 185 KB
  • Preparatory work:
    • Minutes of the diplomatic conference 123 KB
    • Introductory speech by Ms Belliard of the Diplomatic Conference 11 KB
    • Draft of the Revised Convention 68 KB 57 KB 57 KB 72 KB
    • Summary table of the amendments made to the CLNI by the draft revised Convention 110 KB 109 KB 117 KB 126 KB
    • Communication from the Dutch delegation 39 KB 39 KB 37 KB 37 KB
    • Communication from IVR 26 KB 23 KB 29 KB 26 KB
    • Communication from the French delegation 21 KB 23 KB 20 KB 18 KB
    • Communication from the Hungarian delegation 16 KB 18 KB 17 KB 15 KB
    • Proposal for a Declaration by the States Parties to the CLNI 9 KB 14 KB 9 KB 9 KB
    • Communication from the Luxembourg delegation 12 KB 12 KB 12 KB 11 KB
    • Proposal from the Chair of the group of experts 10 KB 10 KB 10 KB 10 KB
    • Communication from the Serbian delegation 20 KB
    • Drafting amendments proposed by the German delegation 300 KB
    • Room paper n° 1 13 KB
    • Final Act 8375 KB
  • Presentation: “2012 CLNI 2012 - what has changed” 20930 KB



State of signatures and ratifications of CLNI 2012

La présente Convention était ouverte à la signature de tout Etat du 27 septembre 2012 au 26 septembre 2014, au siège de la Commission Centrale pour la Navigation du Rhin à Strasbourg, elle est entrée en vigueur le 1er juillet 2019.

Participants Signature Ratifications, acceptance, approval or accession
Germany1 11 July 2013 Ratification: 27 September 2018
Belgium2 27 September 2012 Ratification: 25 August 2022
France 27 September 2012  
Hungary   Accession: 7 March 2018
Luxembourg3 27 September 2012 Ratification: 25 September 2014
Netherlands4 29 November 2012 Acceptance: 7 June 2018
Poland 3 December 2013  
Serbia5 18 January 2013 Ratification: 18 June 2013

1 Reservation expressed by Germany
In accordance with Article 18, paragraph 1 of the Convention, the Federal Republic of Germany reserves the right to exclude fully or in part the application of the provisions of the Convention to the claims referred to in Article 18, paragraph 1, (a) and (c) of the Convention, and the vessels referred to in Article 18, paragraph 1, (d) of the Convention.
2 Réserve faite par la Belgique
Conformément à l'article 18, paragraphe 1, a) de la Convention, le Royaume de Belgique se réserve le droit d’exclure l’application des règles de la Convention aux créances pour dommages dus au changement de la qualité physique, chimique ou biologique de l’eau.
3 Réserve et déclarations faites par le Luxembourg
Réserve :
Aux fins de l’article 18, paragraphe (1), le Grand-Duché de Luxembourg exclut les créances pour dommages dus aux changements de la qualité physique, chimique ou biologique de l’eau.
Déclarations :
Aux fins de l’article 15, paragraphe (2), le Grand-Duché de Luxembourg déclare que la Convention mentionnée à l’article 1er ne s’applique que sur la Moselle et la partie navigable de la Sûre.
Sans préjudice des droits relatifs aux créances pour mort ou lésions corporelles visés à l’article 6 de la Convention, les créances pour dommages causés aux ouvrages d’art des ports, bassins, voies navigables, écluses, barrages, pont et aides à la navigation disposent de la priorité par rapport aux autres créances.
4 Reservation expressed by the Netherlands
In accordance with Article 18, paragraph 1, (a) of the Convention, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with reference to the European part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, reserves the right to exclude fully the application of the provisions of the Convention relating to damage resulting from a change in the physical, chemical or biological quality of the water.
5 Réserve faite par la Serbie
Conformément à l'article 18, paragraphe 1, de la Convention de Strasbourg sur la limitation de la responsabilité en navigation intérieure (CLNI 2012), la République de Serbie déclare exclure l’application des dispositions de ladite Convention en cas de dommages dus à un changement de la qualité physique, chimique ou biologique de l'eau, ainsi qu’aux créances visées à l'article 2, paragraphe premier, lettres d) et e) de la Convention.


Publications and associated events


  • Die Haftungsbeschränkung zwischen CMNI und CLNI 204 KB
    Rechtsanwalt Dr. Martin Fischer, TransportRecht Oktober 2013
  • Adoption of the CLNI 2012 - what has changed compared with CLNI 1988? 1460 KB
    Cécile Tournaye, TransportRecht Juni 2013
  • Intérêt de la CLNI 2012 pour la navigation Intérieure en Europe 492 KB
    Cécile Tournaye, DMF septembre 2013
  • Revision of Strasbourg Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation 51 KB
    Dr Anastasiya Kozubovskaya-Pelle, JIML 18 [2012]
  • La révision de la CLNI : Quelle effectivité dans le contexte européen ? 917 KB
    Cécile Tournaye, CCNR, DMF juillet-août 2011


Press release

  • Conclusion of the Strasbourg Convention of 2012 on the Limitation of Liability in Inland Navigation (CLNI 2012) 138 KB 129 KB 122 KB 138 KB
  • Hungary accedes to CLNI 2012 218 KB 219 KB 216 KB 216 KB
  • Ratification of the CLNI 2012 and denunciation of the CLNI 1988 479 KB 477 KB 480 KB 477 KB




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