The persons entitled to the

compensation for the death of a seafarer during his employment

Maxim Kocherzhenko

       Most collective agreements which cover sea-going vessels and contain the working conditions of seafarers, their social and material guarantees contain the provision stating that the payment of a compensation for the death of a seafarer is made to the beneficiary ( "next of kin"), which is appointed by a seafarer before leaving on a voyage. This is secured by putting the name of the next of kin into the employment contract or into the application form, which is filled by the seafarer in a crewing agency. As a rule, the correct filling of "next of kin" column allows to avoid disputes between the relatives of the deceased seafarer on who is entitled to receive compensation for his death. Also, it brings in the distinctness for the ship owner and his P&I Club to whom they have to make the relevant payment.

    Difficulties arise when the employment contract or a collective agreement does not regulate the issue about the persons entitled to receive compensation. In this situation, we must apply the norms of the Ukrainian legislation, namely the Civil Code of Ukraine.

    According to the Civil Code of Ukraine  in case of the death the right to receive a compensation for damages have disabled persons who were dependent on the victim or had on the right to receive maintenance from the victim on the day of his death. Generally are recognized as such:

1) a child - until the age of eighteen years (pupils, students - until the end of study, but not longer than until the age of twenty-three years);

2) the husband, wife, parents (adoptive parents) who have reached the retirement age prescribed by law - for life;

3) invalids - for the period of their invalidity;

4) one of the parents (adoptive parents) or the spouse or the other family member, regardless of age and disability, if they are not working and caring for: children, brothers, sisters, grandchildren of the deceased - before they reach the age of fourteen;

5) other disabled persons who were dependents of the victim - five years after his death.

Also, the right to receive compensation of the victim has a child born after his death.

      Disputes often arise between the above persons to whom and in what amount is the compensation to be paid. Conflicts may also arise in situations where a seafarer indicated the wife as a recipient of the compensation («next of kin»), while he has a parents of  a retirement age or another disabled dependents who have legal rights to receive the compensation. In such cases ship owners and P&I Clubs take a wait-and-see attitude and do not pay the compensation until the conflicting parties negotiate between themselves about the distribution of the compensation amount and sign the relevant settlement agreement or Release and Receipt. This situation provoked by the fact that the Ukrainian legislation does not secure the possibility to appoint a person to whom the damages are to be reimbursed  in case of  his relative's death, bypassing another persons who also have rights for the death compensation. Thus, by delaying the payment of the compensation till the moment when the conflicting persons agree on the distribution of the compensation amount between them, the ship owners and the insurers try to avoid potential claims for additional amounts.

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