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“Actual fault or privity” under the Merchant Shipping Act as applied to corporations – distinction drawn between ordinary servants and management

The Facts

Benzine oil was carried on this vessel, a 21 year old steel screw oil tank steamer from Novorossisk to Rotterdam.

Intensive employment gradually led to a deterioration of the boilers and when she left Novorossisk, the vessel was unseaworthy. Unseaworthiness led to stranding in a gale and eventual fire which destroyed the vessel and her cargo.

Cargo sued the shipowners.

By s 502 of the British Merchant Shipping Act, owners were exempt from liability for fire unless caused by their actual fault or privity.


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Charter Party Casebook