Administrator of the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund v. Wilson

In Judgments and Enforcement of Judgments, Pollution (Ship Source) on (Updated )

Précis: The Federal Court granted default judgement to the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund against the owner of a barge for expenses incurred to clean up and mitigate pollution.

Facts: A barge was found adrift in high winds and in danger of sinking. The Canadian Coast Guard contacted one of the two owners of the barge about the situation, but the owner advised they were unable to rescue the barge. The Coast Guard retained a contractor to tow the barge to a safe moorage. The Coast Guard subsequently submitted a claim under the Marine Liability Act to the plaintiff, the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund, for the costs incurred to salvage the barge. The claim was accepted and paid by the plaintiff after a small reduction. The plaintiff then demanded payment of the amount paid to the Coast Guard from the defendant owners of the barge. The defendants refused to pay. The plaintiff then commenced this action. The defendants failed to appear. The plaintiff brought this ex parte motion for default judgment.

Decision: Default judgment granted.

Held: The defendants were properly served and as owners of the barge they are liable under s. 77 of the Marine Liability Act for the reasonable expenses incurred by the Canadian Coast Guard to prevent, repair, remedy or minimize the oil pollution associated with the barge.