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Document Type

Symposium Article

Abstract

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has led to calls for the United States’ prescriptive regulatory approach to offshore safety to be replaced with something closer to the Safety Case regime that was introduced in the United Kingdom following the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea in 1988. This Article traces the evolution of offshore safety regulation in the UK to explain the reasons for the abandonment of prescriptive regulation in favour of the Safety Case approach, and to outline the key features of the latter regime. Noting both the apparent strengths and weaknesses of the Safety Case, the paper concludes that while there may be good reasons for avoiding a wholesale transplant of the United Kingdom’s approach, there may equally be important lessons to be drawn from the long and often difficult evolution of offshore safety regulation in that jurisdiction.

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