Negligence of Ship Crew

Article IV Rule 2. Neither the carrier nor the ship shall be responsible for loss or damage arising or resulting from: (a) Act, neglect, or default of the master, Mariner, Pilot, or the servants of the carrier in the navigation or in the management of the ship. The courts have held this to mean that in circumstances where the vessel’s crew or owners take steps relating to the management of the ship itself then, to the extent that such negligent actions cause cargo damage, the owners will not be liable. However, the courts have refused to extend the negligence on the part of the ship’s crew to acts which relate to the operation of the cargo systems. So, if the crew fails, through negligence or default to ensure the proper operation of a vessel’s refrigeration equipment and a perishable cargo is damaged as a result then such steps will be in relation to care of the cargo and would not fall within the provisions of Article IV Rule 2. On the other hand, if the vessel’s crew were negligent in their operation of the ballast system on board the vessel, which is integral to the safety and stability of the vessel, then loss and damage to the cargo could fall within the provisions of this exception. (b) Fire, unless caused by the actual fault or privity of the carrier. (c) Perils, dangers and accidents of the sea or other navigable waters. (d) Act of God. (e) Act of war. (f) Act of public enemies. (g) Arrest or restraint of princes, rulers of people, or seizure under legal process. This exception would apply save where such arrest or restraint or seizure under a legal process resulted from the vessel’s owners’ fault.  (h) Quarantine and restriction. (i) Act or omission of the shipper or owner of the goods, his agent or representative. (j) Strikes or lockouts or stoppage or restraint of labour from whatever cause, whether partial or general. (k) Riots and civil commotions. (l) Saving or attempting to save life or property at sea. (m) Wastage in bulk or weight or any other loss or damage arising from inherent defects, quality or vice of the goods. (n) Insufficiency of packing. (0) Insufficiency or inadequacy of marks. (p) Latent defects not discoverable by due diligence. (q) Any other cause arising without the actual fault or privity of the carrier, or without the fault or neglect of the agents or servants of the carrier, but the burden of proof should be on the persons claiming the benefit of this exception to show that neither the actual fault or privity of the carrier nor the fault or neglect of the servants or agents of the carrier contributed to the loss or damage. The extent of the above exceptions and limitations on owners’ liability are fairly self-evident. To expand on Article IV Rule 2(a) – Fault & Navigation of Management of the Ship-reference is made to Gosse Millerd Limited v Canadian Government Merchant Marine Limited 1929. In this case the cargo interests shipped boxes of tinplates on board the vessel at Swansea for carriage to Vancouver. The tinplates were damaged by fresh water which had fallen onto the cargo, as rain, during the vessel’s voyage, at one of the intermediate ports of call where the hold had been opened. The court held that the removal of hatch covers and failing to place tarpaulins in place to protect the cargo was an act in relation to the management of cargo rather than the management of the ship. To this extent the owners were not entitled to rely upon the exception.