Canada says prosecution of shipping firm should take place even without cooperation

A Greek shipping firm accused of operating a vessel that leaked thousands of litres of bunker fuel into Vancouver’s English Bay should be prosecuted even if the company declines to participate, Crown attorney Jessica Lawn said earlier this month.

The Crown has argued that Alassia operated the MV Marathassa (IMO 9698862) when the vessel leaked 2,700 litres of fuel into English Bay in April 2015.

Following a Transport Canada investigation, Alassia and the Marathassa have both been charged with 10 pollution-related offences. Alassia has denied that it owned the Marathassa.

The Crown notified Alassia of the proceedings in three different ways. These included serving a summons to the captain of another vessel, allegedly operated by the shipping management company, while it was docked in a port on Vancouver Island. A peace officer from Environment Canada boarded the MV Afroessa off Nanaimo last March and served notice to Antonios Valakitsis, the ship’s master and captain.

Alassia has argued in the British Columbia Supreme Court that Valakitsis worked on contract and was not able to accept a summons on behalf of the organization.

Also, a summons was served on Eric Renteria, an insurance adjuster at Charles Taylor Adjusting in Vancouver. Renteria said early last year in an affidavit to the provincial court that an Environment and Climate Change Canada employee did not explain why he was serving him with a summons.

Alassia had previously argued that Canadian law required summonses to be delivered to an executive officer of a corporation or a branch, and that neither the insurance adjuster or the captain fit that description.

Alassia has explained its reasons for not appearing in provincial court, saying to do so would indicate it recognizes the court’s authority to hear the case.

A ruling released in November 2017 dismissed the company’s application to quash a decision by a justice of the peace to certify that the summons had been served. Alassia has filed an appeal, arguing the certification was beyond the justice of the peace’s jurisdiction.

The provincial court trial is scheduled to begin February 26th.

A summons was also served to lawyer Peter Swanson, who represents the Marathassa and Alassia, as well as Charles Taylor Adjusting Services, an insurance agency specializing in major incidents and claims. The BC Supreme Court decision says the Crown conceded that neither of those attempts to serve Alassia were effective.

Crown attorney Jessica Lawn dismissed an argument by Alassia NewShips Management Inc. that it had not been properly served a summons in the case.