Liberty

The Statute of Liberty’s argument was that she first sighted Andulo on her starboard bow on a 20º bearing, observing her red and masthead lights. When distant about 3 miles she altered to starboard to bring Andulo on her port bow. About ¾ mile distant, her bearing broadened on the port bow but suddenly the green light opened up and the red disappeared causing Statute of Liberty necessarily to put her course suddenly to starboard. It was because Andulo thereafter swung further to port that the collision occurred. It was held (on appeal by the Andulo’s owners and on cross appeal by the Statute of Liberty’s owners) that fault lay with Andulo in failing to take more accurate observations earlier, but that such fault had no ‘causative potency’ and should not be taken into the reckoning when assessing blame over all. Her causative fault did, however, lie in her unjustified assumption that Statute of Liberty would be making no further change in her course. The substantial causative fault was attributable to the Statute of Liberty for failing to give way earlier. Their Lordships upheld the percentage apportionment of fault which had been fixed by the Court of Appeal at 85% on Statute of Liberty and 15% on Andulo. Although the very word ‘collision’ implies contact and/or impact between the vessels, it should be noted that a vessel may cause damage by its negligence to another vessel without actual contact. The basis of the claim is that the negligence of the defendant ship caused the damage to the plaintiff. Although this damage must not be too remote, the action in negligence is not dependent upon physical contact.