Secunda Marine Services Ltd. v. Caterpillar Inc

In Admiralty Practice on (Updated )

Précis: The plaintiff was allowed to amend its claim by adding a new plaintiff 10 years after the incident giving rise to the claim.

The plaintiff’s vessel was damaged by fire in 2001 and the plaintiff commenced proceedings in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in 2004. In 2008 the plaintiff advised the defendants that the proper plaintiff was Secunda Marine Atlantic and not Secunda Marine Services. In September 2011 the plaintiff brought this application to amend its pleading to correct the name of the plaintiff. The defendants also brought an application to dismiss the action on the grounds of the plaintiff’s admission that it was not the owner of the vessel. A key issue was the applicable limitation period and whether it had expired.

Decision: The plaintiff’s application was allowed and the defendants’ application was dismissed.

Held: The Court held that either the defendants had not established a valid enforceable limitation defence or, if there was such a defence, then allowing the defendants to rely on it would create an unfair advantage. This was an appropriate case to exercise the Court’s discretion in favour of the plaintiff.

Comment: This case turns largely on the Rules of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.