North Ridge Fishing Ltd. v. The "Prosperity" et al.

In Charters of Ships on (Updated )

This was an appeal from a summary trial application. The appeal arose out of a net cutting incident that occurred during the roe herring fishery. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant vessel "Prosperity" negligently cut its net during the fishery resulting in a loss of fish. At the time, the "Prosperity" had been chartered for the entire 1997 herring season. A term of the agreement provided that only three named individuals were permitted to operate the vessel. One of those individuals did, in fact, operate the vessel. At issue in the summary trial and on appeal was whether the agreement was a charter by demise and the effect of such a charter by demise on the liability of the owner. The Court of Appeal held that the agreement did amount to a charter by demise as the owner effectively relinquished custody, possession and control over the "Prosperity" to the charterer. The fact that the charterer was required to appoint one of three named individuals to operate the vessel did not detract from this conclusion since it was the vessel’s insurer that required this condition and the owner had no right to chose which of the three named individuals would be appointed. The Court of Appeal further held that as all of the crew were appointed by the charterer, there was no vicarious liability on the part of the owner. A second issue on the appeal was whether the owner was negligent in failing to properly train the master or in holding him out as being properly trained. The Court of Appeal agreed with the Trial Judge that an owner of a ship under bareboat charter had no duty to train those manning the vessel and that simply agreeing to have the ship operated by one of three individuals was not a representation as to the training of those individuals. In the result, the appeal and the action against the owner was dismissed.