Swinburne v. Dike

In Docks Wharves and Marinas on (Updated )

This was a summary judgment application by a group of small vessel owners against a marina for damage caused to their vessels when the marina broke apart during a severe storm. In defence of the claims the marina relied upon an exclusion clause in the moorage contracts that exempted it from liability for "loss of or damage to any property of the owner". The Court held that this clause did not apply to vessels which, in other parts of the contract, were distinguished from other property. In doing so the Court relied upon the well established principle that exclusion clauses must be clear and unambiguous and that any ambiguity would be strictly construed against the person attempting to rely on the exclusion. The Court further held the exclusion clause was not sufficient to exculpate the marina from its duty to warn of the dangerous condition of the docks.