No. 68, 20 May 2000
This Act shall cover accidents and incidents at sea, referred to in the Act as marine accidents, as well as diving accidents, cf. Article 7 of Act No. 31/1996.
Marine accident investigation shall mean the special procedure provided for by this Act and international rules which Iceland has ratified.
Investigation of marine accidents according to this Act shall be intended exclusively to prevent accidents on board and to increase safety at sea.
Any investigation of suspected criminal action in connection with a marine accident shall be carried out in accordance with the Criminal Proceedings Act; such investigation shall be independent of investigation as provided for under this Act.
For the purposes of this Act, the term marine accident shall mean any occurrence in connection with the operation of a vessel which results in personal injury or damage to a vessel or property. The Minister shall issue detailed rules defining the concept of marine accident, having regard to its definition under international rules.
The Minister of Transport and Communication shall appoint a five-person board of experts for a four-year term to investigate marine accidents, one of whom shall serve as chairman. Board members must have such qualifications and experience as will be particularly useful in investigating marine accidents.
The Minister of Transport and Communication shall, upon receiving the Board’s recommendation, appoint a managing director, who in turn shall engage other personnel in consultation with the Board. Costs incurred by the Board shall be paid from the National Treasury.
[The Icelandic Marine Accident Investigation Board (IMAIB), its personnel and others working on behalf of the Board, shall maintain confidentiality concerning events made known to them due to their work for the Board. This shall include any information on people’s private affairs and other information which should remain secret due to legitimate interests of individuals and the public. The obligation of confidentiality shall remain even after their employment ceases. The provisions of Article 13 shall apply concerning access to documentation for the investigation.]1)
1)Act 57/2003, Article 1.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board shall operate independently of the public authorities and other investigators, the public prosecutor and the courts. The Board shall itself decide when there is cause to investigate a marine accident over and above that which it is obliged to do in accordance with this Act.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board shall have jurisdiction over all Icelandic vessels, as well as all foreign vessels sailing to and from Iceland if Icelandic interests are involved in a marine accident. The Board may investigate other accidents or incidents occurring aboard foreign vessels sailing to Iceland or in Iceland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) if the Board sees reason to do so or if requested by a flag state.
The Board shall investigate, for instance:
a. marine accidents occurring in Icelandic jurisdiction involving registered vessels;
b. marine accidents involving a vessel registered in Iceland, located anywhere in the world;
c. accidents and other incidents at sea or on lakes and rivers involving unregistered vessels, including boats of less than 6 metres length.
Special rules shall be adopted concerning the recording of accidents occurring aboard all Icelandic vessels, whatever their size, as well as the recording of accidents and incidents occurring aboard foreign vessels investigated by the Board.
[The Marine Accident Investigation Board may, upon receiving the consent of the Minister of Transport and Communication, partly or fully entrust a foreign state with investigation of a marine accident occurring in the area of Icelandic jurisdiction.
Where appropriate, the Marine Accident Investigation Board shall include in its investigation the arrangements for giving notification of marine accidents, search and rescue operations and other actions intended to mitigate the consequences of marine accidents.
The Minister of Transport and Communication may entrust the Marine Accident Investigation Board with the investigation of aspects concerning safety at sea in general without these being connected to an accident.]1)
1)Act 57/2003, Article 2.
Should a marine accident as referred to in Articles 1, 2 and 5 occur, the master of the vessel, vessel operator, Icelandic Ship Duty Reporting System, Coast Guard, police authorities or other party aware of such shall be responsible for giving notification thereof and ensuring without exception that the Marine Accident Investigation Board is informed of the accident.
The master of the vessel, or his substitute, must record and give notification of all personal injuries occurring aboard ship in accordance with detailed rules adopted by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in consultation with the State Social Security Institute. The recording and notification obligation includes, for instance, any occupational accident at sea, poisoning, occupational diseases or other incidents which may be of significance in this connection.
If a marine accident has occurred, cf. Article 6, the scene of the accident may not be altered until an investigation by a competent party has been carried out; this includes collecting for preservation all moveable objects connected with the accident. If an accident occurs while at sea, where altering the scene of the accident prior to an investigation cannot be avoided, the master of the vessel and other officers are responsible for compiling a detailed report on the accident scene, events leading up to the accident and which persons were on the scene either at their tasks or otherwise. The vessel’s officers must take and preserve any and all objects which break or fail, such as blocks, locks, wires, chains, ropes and parts of fishing gear, and anything connected with the accident. If the accident can be traced to other equipment, such as mechanical, electrical, steam, manual or hydraulic equipment, such equipment shall not be used until it has been examined unless required for reasons of safety and the continuation of a voyage. In those instances when repairs to equipment at sea are unavoidable, the master of the vessel and chief engineer must ensure that a detailed report is compiled on the breakdown and repair, and that all parts which must be replaced are preserved. Such reports, as well as all the parts which must be preserved aboard the vessel in connection with an accident, must be delivered to the Board upon putting into port.
[The Marine Accident Investigation Board shall be entitled to request the assistance of the police, other public authorities or other rescue and assistance organisations. These parties are obliged to assist in an investigation.]1)
The Marine Accident Investigation Board and its personnel shall have unrestricted access to the scene of the accident, even in the case of privately owned locations. Should a parallel police investigation be underway at the scene of an accident, the parties shall collaborate in their on-site investigation.
The Board and its personnel shall have the right to question parties and gather information on the scene at their own discretion, cf. Article 9.
1)Act 57/2003, Article 3.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board and its personnel shall be authorised to demand the submission of all documentation pertaining to a vessel, such as its log books, maintenance records, all certificates which are required to be kept aboard the vessel, a register of crew members, computer print-outs concerning the vessel’s voyage and engine, as well as other documentation as deemed necessary, e.g. on communications and data concerning the vessel’s operation and sailing. They may also question the owner, user or supervisor of the vessel, its crew and any other person who may be expected to be able to provide information which could help to reveal the cause of the accident.
The Board may seek the assistance of research laboratories, in Iceland or abroad, as required for the investigation of a marine accident. Domestic parties are obliged to provide such assistance to the Board.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board may summon experts in specific fields to work with the Board if it deems this necessary.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board may detain a vessel or hold any part of it or of its equipment as long as it deems necessary due to the investigation. Such authorisation shall not, however, be invoked unless this is deemed unavoidable for the investigation of the case.
Disputes concerning whether a vessel shall be released may be referred to a judge in the legal venue where the vessel is located.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board may record questionings concerning the investigation of a marine accident. The Board shall have transcripts made of the substance of recordings which it deems to be of significance for the investigation of a case, or record a summary of the questioning.
The party concerned in a case, his or her spokesperson and any other persons whom the Marine Accident Investigation Board feels necessary to question to shed light on the case, must meet before the Board and reply to the questions directed to them.
The reports of questioning by the Marine Accident Investigation Board may not be used as evidence in criminal proceedings, cf. the fourth paragraph of Article 1, as the objective of marine accident investigation as provided for by this Act is to diagnose the causal factors of marine accidents for the purpose of preventing an accident of the same or similar type from reoccurring at sea. The purpose is not to allocate fault or responsibility. This shall be stated on the first page of every final report issued by the Marine Accident Investigation Board.
[Access may not be provided to the following documentation gathered by the Marine Accident Investigation Board in investigating a marine accident or information provided on the documentation, cf. however the third and fourth paragraph:
a. recordings or transcripts of testimony of persons questioned by the Board in investigating a case;
b. any type of registered telecommunications or recordings of telecommunications between parties connected with a marine accident;
c. medical and other personal records concerning persons connected with a marine accident;
d. any and all opinions which the Board has obtained in connection with assessment of documentation listed in sub-paragraphs a-c.
Parties from whom opinions are sought, as provided for in Article 13, may be granted access to the documentation referred to in the second paragraph to the extent that the Marine Accident Investigation Board deems necessary for them to provide their opinion.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board shall omit from its final report any direct reference to the documentation in the second paragraph except insofar as this is deemed necessary for analysing the causes of a marine accident.
When access is granted to documentation as provided for in the third paragraph the anonymity of those persons connected with a marine accident shall be respected. The same shall apply to the Board’s final report.]1)
1)Act 57/2003, Article 4.
The parties to the case, the owner and operator of the vessel concerned and its classification society, as well as the Icelandic Maritime Administration, shall be given an opportunity, in such manner as the Marine Accident Investigation Board decides, to express themselves with regard to the Board’s final report within a specified time limit before the report is finally closed, cf. Article 14, if their position and reasons for taking such a position are not already clear from the case documentation or such is clearly unnecessary. Should a written demand for the opportunity to express an opinion be received prior to the preparation of the final report, this demand shall be accommodated.
Once an investigation has concluded, the Marine Accident Investigation Board shall compile, as soon as possible, a report on the conclusions of the Board’s investigation. The report shall account for the cause or probable cause of the accident, in addition to making proposals for precautionary measures which could be taken to prevent further accidents of the same or similar type. The report shall be sent to the Minister of Transport and Communication, the Icelandic Maritime Administration, the Maritime Council and the parties involved in the case.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board shall make proposals for improvements in safety measures at sea if an investigation into the causes of a marine accident gives cause for so doing. The Icelandic Maritime Administration is responsible for ensuring that proposals for improvements submitted by the Board are formally dealt with in each instance. The Icelandic Maritime Administration shall send the Board the results of such discussion.
At the end of each year of operation, the Board shall compile a summary of how its proposals have been implemented and submit this to the Minister of Transport and Communication. The summary shall be included in the Board’s general report.
The Board shall publish a general report on its work each year and present this to the Minister.
The Marine Accident Investigation Board shall see to the distribution of reports on individual cases. These reports shall be regarded as public documents. The Board’s reports may be sold at cost price.
[The Marine Accident Investigation Board may re-open cases which have already been investigated, as provided for in Article 13, if new and important evidence comes to light in its estimation.
In exceptional circumstances, the Minister of Transport and Communication may entrust the Marine Accident Investigation Board to investigate further a specific marine accident or certain aspects connected with a marine accident, in particular if new documentation or information comes to light after the investigation has been concluded.]1)
1)Act 57/2003, Article 5.
A Regulation1) issued by the Minister of Transport and Communication shall provide in detail for the work of the Marine Accident Investigation Board, including its relations with other investigative parties, premises and administration, preservation of documentation, personal identification of the legal status of Board members and their authorisations in the course of duty, necessary equipment and tools for on-site investigation and individual procedural aspects, as deemed appropriate.
Furthermore, the Minister may issue Regulations laying down rules on investigation of marine accidents insofar as this is necessary in view of obligations resulting from the Agreement on a European Economic Area, cf. Act No. 2/1993, as subsequently amended.
A violation of the provisions of Article 6 shall be liable to fines.
This Act shall enter into force on 1 September 2000.
Upon the entry into force of this Act, the appointments to the current Marine Accident Investigation Board shall no longer be valid and the Minister shall, following its entry into force, appoint a new Marine Accident Investigation Board in accordance with this Act.