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CANADIAN MARITIME LAW

Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly

CANADIAN MARITIME LAW

Marc D Isaacs *

CASES

17. Adventurer Owner Ltd v Canada 1

Grounding—duty to warn of uncharted shoals—failure to maintain updated charts

Précis: While there is no duty to seek out shoals, if one is discovered there is a duty to warn of its presence. However, the duty to warn had been met by the issuance of a Notice to Shipping prior to the incident. Mariners have a duty of care to have on board and make use of up-to-date charts and nautical publications.
Facts: In August 2010, a passenger vessel in the Canadian Arctic ran aground on a submerged but uncharted shoal causing substantial damages and expense. The shoal had been previously discovered in September 2007. Following the discovery, a Notice to Shipping was issued by the Canadian Government. The vessel did not have a properly updated nautical chart on board the vessel. The shipowner claimed for resulting losses from the Government of Canada. The Federal Court found that, once the shoal had been discovered, the Federal Government was under a duty to warn mariners sailing in the Canadian Arctic of the shoal. The duty to warn had been discharged by the issuance of the notice. The shipowners appealed.
Decision: Appeal dismissed. There was no error by the Trial Judge in finding that there was no breach for which the Crown could be liable and dismissing the action.
Held: The Trial Judge did not err in finding that there was no breach for which the Crown would be liable, as the duty to warn had been discharged. Mariners had their own duty of care at common law, which requires that they must have on board and make use of up-to-date charts and nautical publications. The duty is also informed by the local regulations that apply to the waters that they choose to sail in. The Federal Court did not make a palpable and overriding error and concluded that the Notice to Shippers was a suitable and reasonable warning in the circumstances.

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