Canada (Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund) v. Dodds

In Pollution (Ship Source) on (Updated )

Précis: The Federal Court granted summary judgment in favour of the plaintiff against the registered owner defendant.

Facts: The plaintiff commenced this subrogated, summary trial action against the defendant seeking judgment for $382,353.33 for, inter alia, preventing pollution damage from the sinking of and discharge of oil from the ship “Ryan Atlantic II”, formerly named “Cape Rouge”. The plaintiff relied on the Transport Canada Vessel Registry to plead that the defendant was the owner of the ship. The defendant argued he was not the owner of the ship at the time of the spill and clean up, contending that he sold the ship in 2010 to a Mr. Bisson, adducing evidence in the form of two bills of sale and bank draft. It was contended that the ship was not registered due to a mistake by Mr. Bisson in completing the registry documents. The defendant did not cross examine the plaintiff on the “reasonable” costs of clean up for the pollution damage, or adduce any evidence to dispute the sum claimed.

Decision Judgment for the plaintiff.

Held:The defendant made only oral submissions and tendered no evidence by way of affidavit, leading the Court to determine that the bills of sale and bank draft had no present evidentiary value. The Court looked to s.91 of the Marine Liability Act for the definition of “owner” and also s. 43 of the Canada Shipping Act to determine that the defendant was the owner of the ship. The Court then went on to consider whether there was a genuine issue for trial arising from the amount claimed by the plaintiff, holding that the plaintiff had shown there was no genuine issue for trial for the amount claimed.