Vogel v. Sawbridge et.al.

In Constitutional Issues in Maritime Law on (Updated )

This was a summary trial to dismiss two actions as time barred. The actions arose out of the deaths of two persons aboard the yacht "Kingfisher" while it was moored at Nanaimo Harbour, British Columbia. It was alleged in the Statement of Claim that the deaths were caused by the faulty operation of a heater in the yacht which emitted high levels of carbon monoxide. The deaths occurred on December 22, 1992 but actions were not commenced until December 21, 1994. The Plaintiffs claimed relief under the Family Compensation Act of British Columbia. The British Columbia Supreme Court, following the earlier decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Shulman v McCallum [1933] 7 W.W.R. 567, held that the actions were governed by Canadian Maritime Law and not the provincial Family Compensation Act. Accordingly, the Court held that the actions were governed by the fatal accident provisions of the Canada Shipping Act and that the applicable limitation period was therefore the one year period provided by s.649 of that Act. The Court refused to exercise any inherent jurisdiction to extend the limitation period stating that to do so would conflict with and abrogate the clear provisions of a statute which contained no curative provisions. EDITORS NOTE: This decision should be read and relied upon with care given the subsequent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Ordon v Grail.