We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By continuing to use the website, you consent to our use of cookies. Close

MAKE ME A (NARROW) CHANNEL OF YOUR PEACE: THE NARROW CHANNEL AND CROSSING RULES RECONSIDERED

Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly

MAKE ME A (NARROW) CHANNEL OF YOUR PEACE: THE NARROW CHANNEL AND CROSSING RULES RECONSIDERED

Ralph Morley *

This article analyses the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in The Ever Smart regarding the interaction between the narrow channel rule (Rule 9) and the crossing rules (Rules 15–17) of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, with a focus on the court’s assessment of a hypothetical situation in which the colliding vessels’ obligations under the crossing rules would have been reversed. It considers why the crossing rules apply in some, but not other, narrow channel situations and concludes that the true principle underlying these decisions, which the court failed to identify, is the question whether the crossing situation arose because of a breach of the narrow channel rule.

INTRODUCTION

If collision trials are rare beasts in the modern Admiralty Court, collision appeals are almost extinct in the wild. They have not, though, wholly perished. In The Ever Smart,1 the Court of Appeal sat (with Elder Brethren of Trinity House as nautical assessors) to hear an appeal on liability in a collision case for the first time in over a decade.2 This presented the Court of Appeal with the need to resolve the interaction between the potentially competing requirements of the “narrow channel” and “crossing” rules of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (“COLREGs”).3 These rules have a venerable heritage,4 but, as the case showed, the almost infinite variety of circumstances in which they might fall to be applied can still present questions which the courts have never previously considered.
The Court of Appeal’s decision was, on the facts, correct. However, it missed an opportunity to set out the principle which underpins the decisions courts have reached in
NARROW CHANNEL AND CROSSING RULES RECONSIDERED

243

The rest of this document is only available to i-law.com online subscribers.

If you are already a subscriber, click login button.

Login