R v. Alassia New Ships Management Inc.

In Offences in a Marine Context on (Updated )

Précis: The court declared that service of a summons on the ship’s Master was valid service on the accused operator of the ship.

Facts: The accused was the corporate manager/operator of the vessel "Marathassa" which was the alleged source of an oil spill in Vancouver Harbour. The accused had been charged with various offences in connection with the oil spill. The accused was served with the summons by serving the Master of another vessel also managed/operated by the corporate accused. That service has been the subject of various proceedings including a petition to quash the summons which was dismissed on 14 August 2017. The accused had not entered an appearance and the Crown now applied for an order for an ex parte trial.

Decision: Order granted.

Held: The Criminal Code permits service on a senior officer of a corporate accused. A senior officer is “a representative who plays an important role in the establishment of an organization’s policies or is responsible for managing an important aspect of the organization’s activities". The Master of a vessel qualifies as a senior officer of the accused within the meaning of the Criminal Code. Additionally, service of the Summons on counsel for the accused was also effective service.

Note: The decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court rendered on 14 August 2017 and relied upon in the above decision was later overturned by the British Columbia Court of Appeal (2018 BCCA 92). The reasons of the court of Appeal effectively invalidated the service of the Summons. Thus, this decision is effectively overruled and no longer good law.