Pollution (Ship Source)
Commentaries are intended as an introduction or overview of the topic. The commentaries for some topics are more detailed than others but none of them should be taken as a complete and full recitation of the law applicable to the topic.
Marine pollution is predominantly now governed by statute law but the common law can still have some application. The torts of nuisance, trespass and negligence and the Rylands v Fletcher doctrine still can have some application.
The main federal statutes that address pollution from ships are:
- Canada Shipping Act 2001, Parts 8 and 9
- Marine Liability Act, Parts 6 and 7
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Fisheries Act
- Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
In addition, provincial pollution statutes may apply, although this is not clear.
Canada Shipping Act 2001, Parts 8 and 9
Parts 8 and 9 of the Canada Shipping Act do a number of things. Specifically:
- Prescribed vessels (oil tankers of 150 or more gross tons, other vessels of 400 gross tons or more that carry oil as cargo, groups of vessels (barges) with combined tonnage of 150 or more tons that carry oil) are required to have an arrangement with a pollution response organization and to carry pollution insurance.
- Prescribed oil handling facilities must have oil pollution prevention and emergency plans and an arrangement with a pollution response organization.
- Vessels are prohibited from discharging a pollutant (including oil and oily mixture, noxious liquid, sewage and sludge and garbage.
- Vessels are required to report the discharge of a pollutant.
- Pollution Prevention and Response Officers are authorized to board, inspect and detain vessels and may require security be posted before a vessel is allowed to leave.
- If a vessel or oil handling facility has discharged, is discharging or is likely to discharge a pollutant, the Minister may take measures to remedy, minimize or prevent pollution damage including the removal, sale, or destruction of vessel or the Minister may direct any person or vessel to take measures to remedy, minimize or prevent pollution (in which event compensation shall be paid to such person or vessel [except the polluter] by the Crown).
- If a vessel or person contravenes a provision of the Act, they are guilty of an offence and liable to a maximum penalty of $1 million and/or 18 months imprisonment (some provisions carry a lesser penalty). In some cases, more frequently of late, Administrative Monetary Penalties are applied instead of the offence procedure.
Marine Liability Act, Parts 6 and 7 (Oil and HNS)
The Marine Liability Act does the following:
- Enacts the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992 ( and the Supplementary Fund and Supplementary Fund Protocol), which provide for civil liability and certificates of financial responsibility and establish limitation amounts.
- Continues the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund which is required to pay prescribed claims for oil pollution damage from a ship and authorizes the Administrator to commence subrogation proceedings against the wrongdoer.
- Provides for civil liability
against the owner of the ship for oil pollution damage caused by a discharge of oil from the ship. The owner is liable for clean-up costs and costs of measures to reinstate the environment. The liability is not dependent on proof of fault or negligence. The owner has very limited defences. The limitation period applicable to oil pollution damage claims from a ship is from three to six years depending on whether there was more than one occurrence.
The Marine Liability Act will, at a future date, also enact and include the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010, concluded at London on April 30, 2010 (the "HNS convention"). The HNS Convention will be addressed in Part 6 of the MLA and included as Schedule 9 to the MLA. The HNS Convention establishes a civil liablity and compensation regime similar to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage but in respect of hazardous and noxious substances. The shipowner's liability under the HNS Convnention is limited to 100 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for bulk HNS and 115 SDRs for packaged HNS. The HNS Convention is not yet in force internationally and is therfore not yet part of Canadian maritime law.
Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 is a comprehensive anti-pollution statute that is based upon the "polluter pays" principle. It creates an offence for, among other things, the disposal of pollutants at sea. The directors and officers, Master, Chief Engineer and ship owner are all required to take reasonable care to ensure compliance with the Act and are deemed to be party to and guilty of any offence. The maximum penalty is $300,000 and/or imprisonment of 6 months if the Crown proceeds summarily or $1 million and/or imprisonment of 3 years if the Crown proceeds by indictment. In the event of a spill, any person who owns or has charge, management or control over the substance or causes or contributes to the spill is jointly and severally liable to pay clean-up costs and costs of restoring the environment. The defences under the Act are limited but a due diligence defence is available for some offences.
The Fisheries Act prohibits the deposit of a "deleterious substance" in waters frequented by fish and creates both civil and criminal liability for such a deposit. The offence is subject to a maximum penalty of $300,000 and/or imprisonment of 6 months if the Crown proceeds summarily or $1 million and/or imprisonment of 3 years if the Crown proceeds by indictment. Civil liability is absolute and does not depend on negligence. There are again very limited defences.
Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
The Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 prohibits the deposit of a substance that is harmful to migratory birds in waters frequented by migratory birds by any person or vessel and creates criminal liability for such a deposit. The offence is subject to a maximum penalty of $300,000 and/or imprisonment of 6 months if the Crown proceeds summarily or $1 million and/or imprisonment of 3 years if the Crown proceeds by indictment. Minimum fines of $500,000 and $100,000 are also created for vessels over 5000 tonnes. There is a due diligence defence available.
The database contains 23 case summaries relating to Pollution (Ship Source). The summaries are sorted in reverse date order with 20 summaries per page. If there are more than 20 summaries, use the navigation links at the bottom of the page.
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Pollution - Dissolved Corporate Owner - Liability of Province
British Columbia v. Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund, 2018 BCSC 793
Précis: The province was permitted to restore the corporate owner of a derelict vessel but the restoration was without prejudice to the subrogated rights the SSOPF had acquired against the Province while the corporate owner was dissolved.
Facts: The Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund paid a claim by the Canadian Coast Guard for the costs and expenses incurred by it to remove oil and hydrocarbons from “Chilcotin Princess”. At the time the owner of the vessel, Inter Coast Towing Ltd., had been dissolved for failure to file annual reports and, as a result of the dissolution, the “Chilcotin Princess” vested in the province of British Columbia. The Administrator therefore commenced subrogation proceedings against British Columbia to recover the amounts it paid to the Canadian Coast Guard. The province responded with this petition to restore Inter Coast Towing Ltd. to the Register of Companies as if it had never been struck and dissolved.
Decision: The company is restored but without prejudice to the rights acquired by persons before the restoration.
Held: The Administrator does not oppose the restoration of Inter Coast Towing Ltd. but says that it must be without prejudice to the rights acquired during the dissolution of the company. The restoration of a British Columbia company is governed by s. 360 of the Business Corporations Act, S.B.C. 2002, c. 57. Generally, the restoration is without prejudice to the rights acquired before the restoration. The onus is on the province to prove the restoration should be with prejudice to such rights. The province has not discharged this onus.
Criminal Proceedings - Pollution - Investigations - Unreasonable Search and Seizure
R v. MV Marathassa, 2018 BCPC 125
Précis: The court held that the Charter rights of the accused were infringed when Transport Canada inspectors seized evidence without a warrant.
Facts: In April of 2015 oil allegedly spilled from the ship “Marathassa” while at anchor in English Bay, Vancouver. Transport Canada Inspectors boarded the vessel and seized certain documents and evidence. The ship was later charged with various regulatory offences. During the course of the trial the Crown sought to introduce the evidence obtained from the vessel by the Transport Canada Inspectors. The accused applied to exclude the evidence on the basis that it was obtained in breach of the accused’s section 8 Charter rights which provide a right against unreasonable search and seizure.
Decision: The evidence is excluded.
Held:The first issue concerns the reason for the attendance of the Transport Canada inspectors on the “Marathassa”. The parties are agreed that if the inspectors were conducting a compliance inspection under s. 211 of the CSA, the seizures are lawful, however, if they were conducting an enforcement investigation under s. 219 (investigation into a shipping casualty or a contravention of regulation/statute), they were required to obtain a warrant or informed consent. The evidence is overwhelming that Transport Canada was conducting an enforcement investigation from the moment inspectors boarded the “Marathassa”. Therefore, a warrant or informed consent was required.
The second issue is whether there was a breach of the accused’s s. 8 Charter rights. This requires first that the accused establish it had an expectation of privacy. After the expectation of privacy is determined, the enquiry moves on to consider if the search was reasonable. Although the Marathassa was subject to inspections by Transport Canada and would have a diminished expectation of privacy on account of such inspections, it did have an expectation of privacy in relation to much of the conduct of the inspector. In respect of whether the searches were reasonable, there is a presumption that a warrantless search is unreasonable. The Crown has failed to discharge the onus on it of proving the search was reasonable.
The final issue is whether the admission of the evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. This requires consideration of (i) the seriousness of the Charter-infringing conduct; (ii) the impact of the breach on the Charter-protected rights of the accused; and (iii) society’s interest in the adjudication of the case on its merits. In this case there was deliberate and repeated infringements of the accused’s charter rights which amounted to bad faith. The impact of these breaches was not trivial. Finally, considering that the exclusion of the evidence will not “gut” the prosecution's case and that the spill was “very, very small” a reasonable person would conclude that the evidence should be excluded.
Uncharted Shoal - Liability of Crown - Pollution- Liability of Vessel - Effect of Signed Treaties/Conventions - Damages - Breach Date Rule - Appeals - Standard of Review
Adventurer Owner Ltd. v. R., 2017 FC 105 2018 FCA 34
Précis: The Federal Court of Appeal upheld a decision of the Federal Court that: (1) the Crown was not liable for damages caused to a ship running aground on an un-charted shoal in the Arctic when the shoal had been the subject of a Notice to Shipping; and (2) the ship was liable to the Crown for the costs of pollution abatement.
Facts: The “Clipper Adventurer”, a small cruise ship, ran aground in the Canadian Arctic on 27 August 2010 while en route from Port Epworth to Kugluktuk. The shoal had been the subject of Notice to Shipping A102/07 issued in September 2007 but it had not been marked on the applicable chart. The chart being used by the vessel had been issued by the Canadian Hydrographic Service on 30 May 1997 and had been updated/corrected with Notices to Mariners but not with Notices to Shipping. The Canadian Hydrographic Service had intended to replace the Notice to Shipping with a Notice to Mariners but due to an apparent miscommunication this was not done.
As a consequence of the grounding, a number of the vessel’s double-bottomed tanks were breached resulting in a small amount of pollution. The vessel was re-floated on 14 September 2010, underwent temporary repairs in Canada and then sailed to Poland for permanent repairs. The plaintiff, the owner of the “Clipper Adventurer”, commenced this action against the Crown for the Canadian dollar equivalent of approximately US$13.5 million alleging that the Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Hydrographic Service had failed to properly warn mariners of the danger and were in breach of their SOLAS obligations to publish, disseminate and update nautical information. The Crown counter-claimed under the Marine Liability Act and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 for the costs and expenses incurred to prevent, repair, remedy or minimize oil pollution damage in the amount of CDN$468,000.
At trial, the action by the owner of the “Clipper Adventurer” was dismissed and the counter-claim of the Crown was allowed. The trial Judge held:
• There was no duty on the Crown to seek out and chart unchartered shoals but, once the presence of the shoal became known, the Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Hydrographic Service were under a duty to warn mariners of its presence;
• The issuance of the Notice to Shipping A102/07 was sufficient to discharge the duty to warn imposed on the Crown. Pursuant to section 7 of the Charts and Nautical Publications Regulations, 1995 (SOR/95-149), it is the responsibility of Masters to ensure all charts “are correct and up-to-date based on information that is contained in Notices to Mariners, Notices to Shipping and radio navigation warnings”;
• The crew of the “Clipper Adventurer” were negligent in that they should have known there were unchartered shoals and should have proceeded at a slower speed; and
• With respect to the counter-claim of the Crown, liability does not depend on proof of negligence. Pursuant to section 77(3) of the Marine Liability Act, to escape liability the shipowner must establish that the occurrence was wholly caused by the negligence or other wrongful act of a government authority. Thus, even if there was contributory negligence on the part of the Crown, the shipowner would still be liable in full.
The ship owner appealed the finding that the issuance of Notice to Shipping A102/07 was sufficient to discharge the Crown’s duty to warn and also appealed a minor issue relating to interest.
Decision: Appeal dismissed.
Held: The appellant does not challenge the finding that it was negligent but only the finding that the publication of Notice to Shipping A102/07 was sufficient to discharge the Crown’s duty to warn. The appellant argues that this finding is an extricable error of law and therefore subject to the standard of review of correctness. This is not correct. Questions involving the standard of care are normally mixed questions of law and fact and reviewable only if there is a palpable and overriding error. Additionally, there is no issue of the trial Court having improperly characterized the legal test before it. The trial Court clearly understood the issue was whether Notice to Shipping A102/07 satisfied the Crown’s duty to warn. The trial Court held that it did and there was ample evidence to support this conclusion.
One final issue concerned whether the trial Court correctly held that the interest rates under s. 116(1) of the MLA did not apply to the claim of the Crown. Section 116 only applies to claims under Part 7 of the MLA involving the Ship Source Oil Pollution fund. It has no application to a direct claim by the Crown against a shipowner.
Pollution - Clean up Costs - Defence of Deliberate Action by Third Party - Summary Judgment
Administrator of the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund v. Beasse, 2018 FC 39
Précis: The court held the defendant owner liable for pollution clean up costs following the sinking of a tug, rejecting the owner's allegation the sinking was due to the deliberate act of a third party.
Facts: The tug "Elf" sank on 14 January 2014 near Squamish, British Columbia causing pollution. The defendant tug owner was aware of the sinking but took no steps to raise the tug or to contain, minimize or clean up the pollution. Instead, he left it for Canadian Coast Guard to do these things. The tug was successfully raised and inspected by a surveyor and by a representative of the Coast Guard. Neither the surveyor nor the Coast Guard representative found any damage to the hull or the source of the water ingress that had caused the sinking. The tug was then towed to just off Port Atkinson where it was handed off to another tug. Shortly after the hand over the tug sank a second time in deep water. The expenses of the Canadian Coast Guard were paid by the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund who then brought this subrogated action. and this application for summary judgement.
Decision: Judgement for the plaintiff.
Held: The main defence of the defendant is that the first sinking was caused by the act or omission of a third party done with intent to cause damage. The evidence relied upon in support of this third party involvement is that, when the tug was raised after the first sinking, the door was torn off its hinges and a padlock was missing. The defendant argues that this is not an appropriate case for summary judgement because the second sinking has resulted in a loss of the only evidence that could substantiate their case of third party involvement. The defendant alleges there has been spoliation of evidence. However, spoliation requires that the evidence be intentionally destroyed and there is no evidence of such intention here. Moreover, the inspections done of the tug following its raising after the first sinking found no evidence of third party involvement and no indication the door was locked at the time of the sinking. The sinking was due to the unseaworthiness of the tug. The defendant has failed to raise a genuine issue for trial.
Pollution - Offences - Service of Summons on Master - Service of Summons on Counsel
R v. Alassia New Ships Management Inc., 2018 BCPC 5
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.
Pollution - Offences - Service of Summons on Ship Manager - Certiorari - Prohibition
Alassia Newships Management Inc. v. British Columbia, 2017 BCSC 2181 2018 BCCA 92
Précis: The British Columbia Supreme Court dismissed an application for certiorari and prohibition relating to an order of a Justice of the Peace validating service of a summons against a ship manager by serving a Master of a managed ship. On appeal, the Court of Appeal held the ship manager had not been properly served and the Provincial Court was without jurisdiction.
Facts: In April of 2015 oil allegedly spilled from the ship “Marathassa” while at anchor in English Bay, Vancouver. An Information was subsequently sworn laying charges under various statutes against the “Marathassa” and against the applicant, her manager. A summons to appear was served on the applicant by personal service on the Master of the “Afroessa”, another ship managed by the applicant. At a hearing before the Justice of the Peace, the Crown advised the Court that the applicant had been served with the summons. The presiding Justice of the Peace confirmed the service and adjourned the matter to a future date. The applicant did not formally appear at that hearing to contest the service as such an appearance would have been an attornment to the Court’s jurisdiction. Subsequent to the hearing, the applicant applied to the Supreme Court of British Columbia for an order of certiorari quashing the order of the Justice of the Peace and for an order of prohibition prohibiting the Provincial Court from proceeding with the charges against the applicant until it had been properly served.
At first instance, the application was dismissed. The motions Judge held that certiorari and prohibition were available if the Justice of Peace had exceeded her jurisdiction but she had not done so by determining whether the service was valid. The ship manager appealed.
Decision: Appeal allowed.
Held: Section 703.2 of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c. C-46 permits service on an organization by serving “the manager, secretary or other senior officer of the organization or one of its branches”. The Master that was purportedly served was not a manager or secretary of the appellant and was not a “senior officer” since he did not play an important role in the establishment of its policies and was not responsible for managing an important aspect of its activities. The appellant was therefore not properly served under s. 703.2 of the Criminal Code. However, the Crown contends that service was nevertheless proper since the existence of the Summons came to the notice of the appellant. This is not correct. There is a distinction between notice in fact and notice in law. The notice given must be that which is authorized by law meaning service of a summons must be effected pursuant to s. 703.2. Accordingly, because the appellant was not properly served, the Justice of the Peace exceeded her jurisdiction. The Provincial Court is prohibited from proceeding with the prosecution until the appellant is properly served.
Default Judgment - Pollution
Administrator of the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund v. Wilson, 2017 FC 796
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.
Payments - Whether Release and Subrogation Required
Canada (Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund) v. Canada, 2017 FC 530
Précis: The court held that the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund does not have the right to require a claimant to execute a Release and Subrogation Agreement as a condition precedent to payment of their claim.
Facts: A vessel was reported to the Canadian Coast Guard as sinking and discharging oil. In response, the Coast Guard contained the pollution from the vessel and later raised and removed the wreck. The Coast Guard subsequently submitted its expenses relating to the pollution prevention and wreck removal to the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund pursuant to the provisions of Part 7 of the Marine Liability Act. The Administrator allowed a substantial portion of the claim but requested that the Coast Guard sign a Release and Subrogation Agreement before the claim was paid. The Coast Guard refused to sign the Agreement. The Administrator then brought this application for a determination as to whether it had the right to require a claimant to execute a Release and Subrogation Agreement as a condition precedent to payment of their claim.
Decision: The Administrator has no such right.
Held: Section 106 of the Marine Liability Act provides that once an offer from the Administrator has been accepted by a claimant, the Administrator must pay the claim “without delay”. Section 106 also addresses the release of claims and the rights of subrogation that flow upon payment. There is no requirement that a claimant execute a release or subrogation agreement.
Marine Insurance - Wreck Removal - Liability of Underwriters for Expenses - Sue and Labour
Universal Sales Limited v. Edinburgh Assurance Co. Ltd., 2012 FC 418
Précis: Underwriters were required to reimburse the assured for a settlement payment made in respect of an action for wreck removal costs.
The plaintiffs (the insureds) sought indemnity from the defendants (their insurers) for a settlement payment of $5 million made by them to the federal government related to the costs of raising the “Irving Whale”. The payment was made in settlement of a proceeding brought by the Crown for $42 million. The plaintiffs did not obtain the prior approval of their underwriters before making the settlement. The plaintiffs also claimed for sue and labour expenses of $3.6 million and defence costs of $1.8 million. The insurers denied coverage alleging the plaintiffs were not required to make the settlement payment and that there was no coverage under the policy.
Decision: Plaintiff awarded judgment, in part.
Held: With respect to the claim for sue and labour expenses, the trial Judge denied this claim on the basis that the expenses did not diminish or avert a loss under the policy. This was so because the estimated costs at the time the expenses were incurred were in excess of $21 million but the policy limit was only $5 million. Thus, the sue and labour expenses could not possibly have benefited the underwriter. With respect to the settlement payment, the trial Judge held that he was satisfied that the plaintiffs would have been held liable to the Crown in nuisance if the settlement payment had not been made. With respect to the claim for defence costs, the trial Judge was of the view that these should be apportioned between the plaintiffs and underwriters on the grounds that both benefited from these costs. He somewhat arbitrarily apportioned these defence costs 25% to underwriters and 75% to the plaintiffs.
Pollution - Fisheries Act - Deleterious Substance - Fine
R. v. Bolt, 2011 NLTD 20
In this matter the defendant pled guilty to two charges of depositing a deleterious substance into waters frequented by fish and failing to report a spill contrary to the Fisheries Act. The facts were that a quantity of diesel fuel was spilled into the harbour while the defendant was refuelling his vessel. He was fined $10,000 for the depositing charge and $5,000 for the failure to report. The defendant appealed the fines. The Appellate Court dismissed the appeal noting that it would only interfere with the sentence if it was clearly unreasonable or demonstrably unfit, neither of which had been shown.
Bunkering – Pollution – Apportionment of Fault
FFS HK Ltd. v. P.T. 25 (Ship), 2010 BCSC 1675
The issue in this case was the apportionment of fault for a spill that occurred in Vancouver Harbour during a bunkering operation which cost the vessel owner approximately $1 million. The owner/plaintiff accepted it was partially at fault in that one of the crew left open the valves to one of the ship‟s tanks and the crew failed to monitor the tank after bunkering commenced. However, the owner alleged that the crew of the bunkering barge was also at fault in that bunkers were transferred at a higher rate than agreed and the barge crew also failed to monitor the quantity transferred to the ship. The Court found that a bunkering operation is a joint operation with shared responsibilities and that the agreed transfer rate was a critical component of the transfer operation which should not be deviated from by the barge without clear and explicit instructions from the vessel. The Court found as a fact that the barge increased the transfer rate beyond that agreed and did not accept the evidence of the barge that the vessel asked for an increased transfer rate through hand signals. The Court further found that the increase in the transfer rate was a contributing cause of the spill. The Court then reviewed the faults of the two parties and held that they were equally at fault.
Pollution - Offences - Due Diligence
R. v. M/V “Kathy L” et al., 2010 BCPC 30
This case concerned the sinking of a barge while it was being towed which resulted in escape of pollutants. Charges were laid against the owner of the barge as well as the towing company and the captain of the tug. The Court dismissed the charges against all defendants except for the owner of the barge. The Court found that the sinking was caused by unseaworthiness of the barge for which the owner was responsible. The unseaworthiness was not obvious to a casual observer and the Court rejected the arguments of the Crown that the tug captain should have done a more thorough inspection of the barge.
Adequacy of Compensation - Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund- Standard of Review
Canada v. Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund, 2008 FC 1094
This was an action by the Crown challenging the adequacy of an offer of compensation made by the Administrator of the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund pursuant to the provisions of the Marine Liability Act. The Crown incurred costs in excess of $220,000 to clean and destroy an abandoned tugboat and applied to the Administrator of the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund for reimbursement of this amount. The Administrator offered the Crown only $20,000, arguing that if the Crown had acted reasonably it would have and could have pumped the contaminants from the vessel years earlier. As a preliminary issue, the Court had to consider the appropriate standard of review of a decision of the Administrator and the scope of the appeal. The Court held that the standard was one of reasonableness rather than correctness and that the Court must not substitute its decision for that of the Administrator unless an unreasonable conclusion has been demonstrated. The Court next considered whether the Crown had been negligent and concluded that it had been negligent in waiting five years before exercising its statutory powers to clean and destroy the vessel. This delay increased the claim unnecessarily. The Court next considered whether the Administrator had breached the rules of procedural fairness by failing to provide the Crown with an expert report which apparently quantified the loss at $20,000. The Court held that the expert’s report should have been provided to the Crown. In result, the Court ordered the Administrator to provide the report to the Crown and ordered the Administrator to make a second offer of compensation after receiving and considering any comments by the Crown.
Pollution - Discharge from Vessel – Offence
Newfoundland Recycling v. Her Majesty the Queen (Attorney General for Canada), 2008 NLTD 38
This was an appeal from a judgment finding the Appellant guilty of depositing a deleterious substance (oil) in water frequented by fish contrary to the Fisheries Act. The offence occurred when a vessel that the Appellant had been dismantling for salvage sank at the wharf. The Appellant argued, inter alia, that it was not the owner of the vessel. The Court held, however, that ownership was not determinative. Rather, it was control that mattered and the Court held the trial Judge correctly found the Appellant had control.
Pollution - Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund
Canada v. Administrator of the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund, 2007 FC 548
This was an action by the Crown challenging the adequacy of an offer of compensation made by the Administrator of the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund pursuant to the provisions of the Marine Liability Act. The issue in this application was whether the named Respondent should be the Administrator or the Attorney General of Canada. The Court held that the Administrator was properly named as the Respondent.
Pollution - Sentencing
R v. The “Tahkuna”, 2002 CanLII 54007
This was an appeal of sentence imposed by a Provincial Court Judge. The Defendant ship was charged under the Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act. The charges stemmed from a spill of approximately 1,000 litres of fuel during refuelling operations. The cause of the spill was that a valve in the overflow line had been inadvertently left open. The spill affected 1,500 feet of shoreline and the clean up costs, which were paid by the shipowner, amounted to $65,000.00. Under these circumstances, the Trial Judge imposed a fine of $20,000.00. The shipowner appealed the fine to the Newfoundland Court of Appeal arguing that the fine far exceed the range customarily imposed for similar offences. The Court of Appeal noted that it could only intervene to vary a sentence imposed at trial if the Trial Judge committed “an error in principle” leading to a sentence that was “demonstrably unfit”. Upon reviewing the circumstances, the Court of Appeal found no such error in principle and dismissed the appeal.
Pollution - Offences
R v. Glenshiel Towing Co. Ltd., 2001 BCCA 417
On December 16, 1997, the tug “Glenshiel” was found heeled over and submerged at her mooring in False Creek, Vancouver. As a result of the sinking a considerable amount of diesel fuel escaped from the vessel into the water and the owner was charged pursuant to s. 668 of the Canada Shipping Act with discharging a pollutant. At trial, the accused was acquitted on the grounds that the Crown had failed to prove sufficient evidence to support a conviction. On appeal, the Crown argued that all it needed to prove to support a conviction was that the pollutant emanated from the ship. The accused argued that it was incumbent on the Crown to prove that the accused caused the discharge. The Judge on appeal agreed with the accused holding that the Crown must prove some causal link between the accused and the discharge of the oil before liability will arise, at which point the onus shifts to the accused to prove due diligence. On further appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the offence was a strict liability offence which carries a conviction upon mere proof of the prescribed act. The Crown was not required to prove that an act or omission of the master or some other person on board the ship caused the discharge. All that is required is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the discharge occurred. Thereafter, the onus shifts to the accused to prove that all due care was taken to avoid the discharge.
R v. The Point Vibert,  N.S.J No. 147
This is a rare case in which a ship was found not guilty for discharging a pollutant. The Court found that although the pollutant emanated from the ship the cause of the pollution was the failure of shore based personnel to stay at their posts. Specifically, the procedure set up for the fuelling operation was for the shore based personnel to operate the control valve as instructed by the crew. During the course of the fuelling operation it was apparent that the rate of flow was too great and the crew shouted to the person operating the valve to restrict the flow. However, that person had inexplicably left the valve unattended with the result that the fuel overflowed. Under the circumstances, the Court held that the discharge occurred as a result of events outside the control of the vessel or the crew.
Pollution - Limitation Periods
Canada v. J.D. Irving Ltd.,  2 FC 346
This decision disposes of motions for summary judgement brought by the various Defendants. The matter arose out of the sinking of the "Irving Whale", a tank barge, on September 7, 1970, while under tow of the tug "Irving Maple" from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Bathurst, New Brunswick. At the time of the sinking she was loaded with 4,297 long tons of Bunker C fuel oil. Immediately after the sinking a quantity of oil was discharged from the barge and 32 kilometers of coast line was contaminated. Clean up operations continued until November, 1970. Thereafter, small quantities of oil intermittently leaked from the barge. The barge was kept under surveillance until 1994 when the Minister of Transport decided that the sunken barge should be raised to avoid an inevitable catastrophe. The barge was successfully raised on July 30, 1996, at a cost of $42,000,000.00. On July 29, 1997, the Government of Canada commenced this action to recover the costs of raising the barge. The action was commenced against the owners and charterers of the "Irving Whale" and "Irving Maple" and against the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1971. The action against the owners and charterers was based on the statutory liability of an "owner" imposed by 677(1) of the Canada Shipping Act and on the torts of negligence and nuisance. The actions against the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1971 was pursuant to Part XVI of the Canada Shipping Act.whether the action against the Defendants was time barred by the terms of subsection 677(10) of the Canada Shipping Act;
The various Defendants brought motions for summary judgement. The significant issues were:
whether the action against the "owner" in tort was time barred;
whether Part XVI of the Canada Shipping Act had retroactive effect.
whether the claim against the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund was time barred by subsection 710(1) of the Canada Shipping Act; and
whether the claim against the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund was time barred;
On the first issue the Court held that the Plaintiff's statutory cause of action against the "owner" was time barred by subsection 677(10). Subsection 677(10) provides for a limitation period of 3 years from the date of the damage and 6 years from the date of the "occurrence" that caused the damage. The Plaintiff argued that these limitation periods did not apply because the claim was for "preventative measures" rather than pollution damage. In the alternative, the Plaintiff argued that since the claim was for "preventative measures" the word "occurrence" as used in subsection 677(10) should be interpreted as meaning the taking of "preventative measures" or the time when the Plaintiff first had reasonable grounds for believing such measures were necessary. The Court rejected the Plaintiff's arguments and held that the word "occurrence" could only mean the sinking of the barge. In result the Plaintiff's statutory action against the "owner" was time barred.
On the issue of whether the action in tort against the "owner" was time barred, the owner relied on section 681 of the Canada Shipping Act (which provides that the owner of a "Convention ship" is not liable for the matters referred to in subsection 677(1). The Court, however, noted that there was doubt as to whether the "Irving Whale" continued to be a "Convention ship" as the owner had abandoned ownership after the sinking. The further Court noted that the torts of negligence and nuisance may be of a continuing nature and that there was an absence of evidence on the motion as to the nature of the torts and when they may have been committed. The Court therefore allowed the Plaintiffs actions in negligence and nuisance to continue.
The third issue, whether Part XVI had retroactive effect, arose because Part XVI was not enacted until well after the sinking. The enacting legislation provided that it should apply to claims for expenses "regardless of the time of the occurrence that gave rise to the damage, loss, cost or expenses. The Court held that these words indicated a clear intent that the legislation should be applied retroactively.
The two remaining issues of whether the statutory claims against the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1971 were time barred were resolved against the Plaintiff. The Court held that these claims were time barred.
Pollution - Reasonable Doubt
R. v. The Elm, (May 5, 1998) Nfld. Prov. Ct.
In this matter the "Elm", a lumber carrier, and her Master, Chief Engineer and Second Engineer were charged with various pollution offences. The charges arose when a Fisheries Surveillance aircraft observed an oil slick off the south coast of New Foundland on November 23, 1996. The slick was approximately 20 metres in width and 59 nautical miles long. The Fisheries aircraft followed the slick to the stern of the "Elm". The observers on the aircraft concluded that the oil was being discharged from the "Elm" even though they did not actually observe the discharge of pollutants from the ship. The ship vehemently denied the charges. The theory of the defence was that the slick had come from another vessel. Expert evidence was led indicating the course of the slick was slightly different from the course of the ship. Evidence was also led that the ship was well run and well equipped. The trial judge acknowledged that the facts raised a suspicion but acquitted the accused. In doing so the trial judge noted the absence of oil sample analysis that would have conclusively proven the oil slick had emanated from the "Elm".