Meeker Log and Timber Ltd. et. al. v. The Sea Imp VIII

In Tug and Tow on (Updated )

The British Columbia Court of Appeal rendered a short oral judgment from the bench dismissing an appeal and cross-appeal from the decision of Mr. Justice Peter Lowry, reported at 1 B.C.L.R. (3d) 320. The issues concerned the interpretation of standard towing conditions and limitation of liability pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act. The standard towing conditions were composed of multiple parts each of which contained a slightly different exclusion. They also incorporated parts of the Carriage of Goods by Water Act. The plaintiffs argued that the conditions when read as a whole, and with or without the incorporated provisions of the Carriage of Goods by Water Act, were so inconsistent and ambiguous that no effect could be given to them. The Trial Judge agreed and held the conditions were of no effect. On the limitation aspect of the case, the Trial Judge held that the tug owner was entitled to limit its liability as the cause of the accident was an error in navigation which the owner could not have guarded against. Both parties appealed. The Court of Appeal agreed with the Trial Judge’s reasoning and dismissed both appeals. In result, the standard towing conditions were ruled invalid but the tug owner was entitled to limit its liability.