Case 1 Customer Liability

Case 1 Customer Liability

A ship was leaving port when it struck the remains of the most seaward beacon marking the navigation channel. A pilot employed by the port authority had been on board and had been responsible for guiding the ship out of harbour. Having advised on the appropriate course, he had disembarked a few minutes beforehand by agreement with the master.

The beacon had collapsed a few weeks previously after being hit by a dredger. It had been partially removed, but the concrete base had been left in place, protruding two metres above the seabed. The port authority member had issued a notice to mariners concerning the absence of the beacon, but had omitted to indicate that the obstruction remained; neither had the pilot mentioned it. The ship had to return to port and the master immediately raised a protest. The port authority was held liable by the owners for the costs of repair as well as a substantial amount for loss of hire. A suitable settlement was negotiated by the Club.