Life salvage. Under English law a salvage award was not recognised for life salvage because there was no saved object, which could establish a fund out of which the award could be made.
However, if both property and life were salved by the same salvors, courts would generally order a larger salvage award than if only property had been saved. t was only in 1854 that the preservation of human life was first made a distinct ground of salvage award in the Merchant Shipping Act of that year. The Act also gave a life salvor priority over other claimants where the property was insufficient for the total award. It also allowed the life salvor to claim a reward out of any property that was not destroyed and, finally, if there was no property saved, it allowed the Government to award a satisfactory amount to the salvor out of a Mercantile Marine Fund.
It must be stated that life salvage is very rare. Under the new International Salvage Convention 1989 there is no remuneration for life salvage. The Convention does, however, allow for the possibility of national law concerning life salvage to prevail. The Convention also reflects what courts and salvage arbitrators would do in the past with regard to increasing the salvage reward if there was also life saved.