Damages for Negligent Port State Control Inspection and Detention

Friday, June 11, 2004
The Federal Court of Canada ruled that the Government of Canada is liable in damages for the negligent port state control (PSC) inspection and detention of a foreign vessel. In the instant case, a Canadian PSC boarding officer, trained as a machinery inspector, but not as a naval architect, determined after a cursory inspection that certain frames on the vessel were excessively wasted and must be replaced before the vessel could depart the port. His arbitrary determination was inconsistent with the standards of the flag administration and the classification society and its basis was not substantiated. The ship owner’s appeal was denied by higher authority within the Canadian Government following a delayed and perfunctory review. The court determined that detentions under the SOLAS Convention and the Tokyo MOU must be based on clear grounds of noncompliance following a detailed inspection of the vessel and that delay caused by the detention must be minimized to the extent feasible, which did not occur in this instance. The ship owner was improperly required to undertake unnecessary and extensive repairs in the Canadian port, rather than being allowed to sail to a foreign port where repairs would have been less costly. Damages were awarded to the ship owner in the amount of C$4,344,859.47, plus prejudgment interest in the amount of C$1,624,212.75. Budisukma Puncak Sendirian Berhad v. Canada, Docket: T-609-99 (Can. Fed. Ct., April 5, 2004). Source: HK Law
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