Judges Explain Responsibilities of Oil Leakage Part 1

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Judges Explain Responsibilities of oil leakage Part 1


S J Tubrazy

Lord Denaidson in his speech approvingly paraphrases a portion of Staughton, J., judgment, is quoted below;

“(i)       The responsibility of the ship owners begins when the oil passes into the ship on loading and ends when it leaves the ship upon discharge at the port of destination. Measurements of quantities of oil at any other points are merely means of determining quantities at these crucial points to which, for clarity rather than absolute accuracy.

And again a question from Staughton, J. as approved by Lord Donahdson;

“(ii) Secondly, the defendants are responsible for loss only if it occurred between the time when the oil came on board the ship and the time when it left the ship. As there may be a considerable distance of pipeline between the shore tank and the ship, both at loading and discharge ports. It is important to remember that losses which may occur between a shore tank or meter and the ship are not the ship owner’s responsibility.”

Having, thus, dealt with the questions as to when the delivery takes place, and as to which the custody of ship in case of carriage of oil cargo ends, we are now in a position to examine the kind of losses that occur in the carriage of oil cargoes and how the liability for such losses is to be determined and apportioned and as to on whom the burden of proof lies. In order to answer these questions one has to examine various different situations that occur in the discharging of oil from ships.

First is the occasion when arrived quantities of cargo are found to  be the same in Bill of Lading or are found to be in excess. The quantities in excess ought to be ignored as the consignees cannot be asked to take into account the excess quantity of the cargo as there is no agreement or contract of carriage with regard to this additional cargo between the carriers and the consignees.

The second situation would be when arrived quantities are found to be short as compared to the Bill of Lading quantities. In such an event it is obvious that the carrier would be liable for such shortages and then the burden would shift on the carrier to snow that the shortage was covered under the exception laid down in Article 4.2 Hague Rules.


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