River

Section 3 extends to the defendant shipowner (whose fault is only partial but who has had to pay out damages for loss of life or personal injury in excess of his proportion of fault) the facility to claim contribution from the other vessels whose faults contributed to the damage/loss. A condition precedent to the exercising of this right is that the other ships concerned should have been liable directly to the innocent claimant in the first instance. Section 4 (1) of the 1911 Act abolishes to some extent the ‘presumption of fault’ doctrine. Section 4 (1) has repealed sub-section (4) of Section 419 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, which had provided that a ship was deemed at fault in a case of collision where any of the Collision Regulations had been infringed by that ship. What section 1 has been said to mean truly is that the court must apportion liability in proportion to the degree in which each vessel was at fault, unless it is impossible to do so: The Anneliese (1970). The Peter Benoit (1915). A collision occurred between two ships off the mouth of the River Tees. The trial court found that both ships were at fault and apportioned the blame at one-fifth and four-fifths respectively. On appeal, however, the Court of Appeal considered that the evidence was not clear enough to determine blame accurately, and apportioned the blame equally between the two vessels. The principle on which this decision was based was that the conclusion that it is possible to establish different degrees of fault must be a conclusion proved by evidence, judicially arrived at and sufficiently made out. The expression ‘clear preponderance of blame’ derives from language used by the court in The Peter Benoit.