Polluter pay” principle and liability of non-leaking vessel

On April 3rd 2013, Vessel A collided with Vessel B near Baoshang water of Shanghai, with Vessel B sinking afterwards. The local maritime safety administration (MSA) ordered Company X to carry out oil pollution prevention, control, and an oil spill cleanup.

Shanghai Maritime Court allocated the collision liability ratio between vessel A and vessel B at 70:30. X filed a lawsuit against the owners of vessel A and B to be jointly and severally liable for emergency disposal costs during its oil pollution prevention and spill cleanup work.

Owners of Vessel A argued that theirs was not the vessel whose oil spilled and therefore it should not be liable for the claim of X.

Shanghai Maritime Courts rejected A’s defence because the liability arising out of “both to blame collision” should be borne by the parties in proportion to their respective liability ratio. Therefore the A and B should assume the emergency disposal costs according to their collision liability ratio (70% and 30%).

Trial court: Shanghai Maritime Court

Case No.: [2014]HHFHCNo. 47