Ellerman Lines Ltd v Clyde Navigation Trustees

Case Report: 1911 S.C. 122

The facts: Two steamships collided in a narrow part of the Clyde. The collision occurred due to the attempts by one of the steamships to avoid a tug towing barges. In the dock from which the tug had emerged a cruiser being fitted out had been moored by the shipbuilders in a fashion which was in contravention with the local byelaws. An action was brought by the owners of the steamships against the owners of the tug and the shipbuilders.

Decision: It was held that the primary cause of the accident was the negligent navigation of the tug. Nevertheless, had the cruiser not been so poorly positioned, the collision may have been avoided. On that conclusion, joint fault fell upon the defenders.

Comment: The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (IRPCS) now apply in all tidal waters (e.g. a vessel proceeding along a narrow channel must keep to starboard).

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