Classification societies are discharging various functions in the interest of flag States and shipowners. They are important actors in the system of maritime safety. Because the liability of shipowners is limited, classification societies have been considered as exempt from liability for a long time and in several jurisdictions this view still prevails. This study analyses which actions of classification societies may give rise to claims and whether or not the societies can be held liable under English, German or United States maritime law. Moreover, the fundamental aspects of an international convention on the limitation of the liability of classification societies are developed.