Marine Liability in Canada

In 2001 Canada brought together significant maritime legislation in one Statute, the Marine Liability Act which is divided into six Parts described briefly as follows:

Part I – Personal Injuries and Fatalities

Part I was brought into Canadian law to ensure that maritime personal injury claimants had the same rights as those under Provincial Legislation.

Part II – Apportionment of Liability

Part II was brought into Canadian law to ensure that rules of comparative fault applied to all claims where remedy is made or sought by virtual Canadian maritime law.  Part II ensures apportionment of fault based on rules of interpretory negligence.

Part III – Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims

Part III brings into Canadian law the Conventional Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976, and 1996 Protocol.  The Convention and Protocol have the force of law and apply to all vessels, or craft used solely or partly for navigation without regard to method of proportion.

In Part III there is limitation of liability for owners of docks, canals, and ports.  The Admiralty Court has exclusive jurisdiction with respect to any matter relating to constitution and distribution of a fund under Articles 11 – 14 of the Convention.

Part IV – Liability for Carriage of Passenger by Water

Part IV brings into Canadian law the 1974 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passenger and their Luggage by Sea as amended by the Protocol 1991.  Articles 1 – 22 of the Convention have force of law in Canada.  Canada is a State Party of the Convention.

Part V – Liability for Carriage of Goods by Water

Canada has enacted Hague-Visby Rules by The Hague Rules concluded at Brussels on August 25, 1924 and the Protocol concluded at Brussels on February 23, 1968, and the additional Protocol concluded at Brussels on December 21, 1979.  The Hague-Visby Rules have the force of law in Canada.

Jurisdiction Clause – Bills of Lading

By Section 46 of the Marine Liability Act a claimant may institute judicial or arbitral proceedings in a court or arbitral tribunal in Canada that would be competent to determine the claim if the contract had referred the claim to Canada, where the actual port of loading or discharge, or the intended port of loading or discharge under the contract is in Canada, or the person against whom the claim is made resides or has a place of business, branch or agency in Canada, or the contract was made in Canada.

Section 46 allows a Canadian court to retain cases that would otherwise be subject to a stay of proceeding to send the case to another jurisdiction.

Part VI – Liability and Compensation for Pollution

Part IV has brought into Canadian law 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 Article V which was amended by the Resolution adopted by the IMO on October 18, 2000.