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An aspect of the Oulton Broad incident has prompted me to give thought to the legal implications and responsibilities of the boat owner and the person who was actually helming the vessel in the event of an incident.

May I make it very clear that this is not an attempt in any way to reignite the Oulton Broad discussion. I feel that this matter has been fully discussed and no real value can be obtained by any further reference.

Our visiting Legal Eagle has brought to our attention what I believe is a very interesting point:

Section 100 of the Merchant Shipping Act, which says “It shall be the duty of the owner of a ship to which this section applies to take all reasonable steps to secure that the ship is operated in a safe manner.”

This offence could be committed even if the owner was not actually helming the vessel at the time, or even if the owner wasn’t aboard the vessel.

I am aware that no two cases even under the same legislation are ever the same. However there may be a degree of similarity in other cases which has not gone well for the owner of the vessel and the helm.

For example if I could quote a hypothetical case where a holiday maker, through driving in a dangerous and reckless manner causes an accident. The injured party decides to pursue the individual for damages. But would you pursue someone who has very limited means? What’s the point.

Would you not be tempted to pursue the Boat Yard who quite possibly are sufficiently well heeled to bear the brunt of a financial settlement. Do they not have a duty of care with regard to whom they hire their boats and if they are competent to handle the craft?

I was speaking to a first time hirer yesterday 2nd September after he had completed a particularly harrowing mooring in tidal conditions in a new hire boat, a few month old, from a very reputable boat yard.

I asked “ Did they not tell you how to come into moor” “No” he replied. “Did they not explain”. Did they not show you how to moor stern on, how to turn the boat round, how to approach the mooring against the tide” The reply was “no, he just explained to me the inside of the boat and how to start it. Then we were off, on our own.

 

For my part I have witnessed on more than one occasion people saying that their experience of the trial run had been very limited.  

Therefore is it not beyond the realms of possibility that a hire company, or the owner of an expensive private motor yacht could be made financially responsible in the event of a serious incident involving damage and injury even if they were not helming the boat at the time.

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11 minutes ago, Wussername said:

May I make it very clear that this is not an attempt in any way to reignite the Oulton Broad discussion. I feel that this matter has been fully discussed and no real value can be obtained by any further reference.

Well said, Andrew and thank you.    :default_icon_clap:

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20 minutes ago, Wussername said:

Section 100 of the Merchant Shipping Act, which says “It shall be the duty of the owner of a ship to which this section applies to take all reasonable steps to secure that the ship is operated in a safe manner.”

This offence could be committed even if the owner was not actually helming the vessel at the time, or even if the owner wasn’t aboard the vessel.

 

But what vessels are classed as merchant ships?

I'm not at all sure that a private broads cruiser whould qualify nor do I think a hire cruiser would.

But then, as I get older,  I realise I'm nearly always wrong.

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This has to be a minefield because if one is going to be pedantic one might point out that the rib is a boat not a ship. Then the term Reasonable would have to be qualified. Lets face it, I doubt the man on the Clapham omnibus knows diddly squit about shipping.

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All vessels operating in UK waters both coastal and inland are subject to the Merchant Shipping Regulations. Pleasure boats, used by their owner for sport or recreation and not for profit, are exempt from some of the regulations concerning manning requirements and mandatory equipment. Boats used for profit, such as hire boats, come under the requirements for Small Commercial Vessels under the Merchant Shipping Regulations. It's catch all legislation, so be it pleasure, commercial, hire, rib...pork chop, raft, flappy thing, mobo, a pea-green boat or banana yellow one the Merchant Shipping Act in conjunction with Navigation Authorities (that's why they ain't National Parks) rule the waves.

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'Ere mate, I'm looking through me cardboard telescope mate, an I resemble the fact that yew may be under the wossname that I'm yer average wossname on a bus mate. I am sittin up 'ere mate an I spotted someone in the crows nest mate...and ee's spotted sumfin on the horizon mate!

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