Hogan v. Buote

In Collisions and Ships on (Updated )

Précis: Liability for a collision was apportioned 75% to the give way vessel and 25% to the other vessel.

This case concerned a collision involving two fishing vessels. One vessel, under the command of the plaintiff, was in the process of laying lobster traps and proceeding in a northerly direction while the other vessel, under the command of the defendant, was proceeding westerly. The defendant argued he had the right of way pursuant to Rule 15 of the Collision Regulations (the vessel which has the other on her starboard side shall give way). The plaintiff, on the other hand, said he had the right of way as he was a vessel engaged in fishing pursuant to Rule 3.

Decision: The plaintiff was 75% at fault and the defendant 25% at fault.

Held: The plaintiff, although laying traps, was not restricted in his ability to manoeuvre and therefore Rule 3 did not apply. The defendant had the right of way but he ought to have exercised greater care and his failure to see the plaintiff’s boat was a failure to keep a proper lookout contrary to Rule 5.