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CHAPTER 14 Collisions

Shipping Law

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Page 278

Collisions at sea are a staple of ‘wet’ Admiralty work. Such actions are subject to two procedural peculiarities that distinguish them from ordinary shipping actions proceeding in the Commercial Court or the Admiralty Court. The first is the collision statement of case, formerly known as the ‘preliminary act’. This is a document containing various questions relating to the collision, for example: the ships involved; the weather; the course steered; and the angle of contact.1 Under CPR Pt 61.4(5), every party must file a completed statement of case in form Adm 3 within two months of the defendant filing an acknowledgement of service.2 The answers contained in the statement of case will constitute admissions of fact for the purpose of the litigation. The second is the role of the assessors, who are usually chosen from the ‘elder brethren’ of Trinity House. They sit with the judge to advise on nautical matters. They cannot be cross-examined and their role substantially restricts the right of the parties to call their own expert nautical evidence.

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