Braganza v BP Shipping Ltd and Another: ComC 30 May 2012

The claimant said that her husband, serving as an officer on the defendant’s ship was lost overboard as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
Held: The claim under the 1976 Act failed, but the court awarded the contractual sum claimed.
As to the defendant’s suggestion that the case was one of suicide: ‘In considering whether the cause of Mr Braganza’s death was accident or suicide the Court must bear in mind that suicide, although not a crime in English law, is ‘still a drastic action which often leaves in its wake serious social, economic and other consequences’; per Watkins LJ in R v West London Coroner ex parte Gray [1988] QB 467 at pp. 477-8. It was therefore common ground that before a finding of suicide is made there must be evidence of sufficient cogency commensurate with or proportionate to the seriousness of the finding’. Applying this to the evidence: ‘Suicide is no more than a possibility. It is not, in my judgment, more likely than not to have happened. Many people have financial worries and worse and do not commit suicide. Mr Braganza had no history of depression or illness. Moreover, his participation in the daily work meeting on 10 May 2009 was entirely normal. His discussion with the Master about the weather, the open Man Diesel maintenance letter on his desk with his reading glasses on top and the emails sent late at night to Mr Farquhar and the Second Engineer all paint a picture of a conscientious engineer with his mind on the job. He left no suicide note. Given the serious nature of a finding of suicide I do not consider that the evidence before the Court is sufficiently cogent to warrant such a finding on the balance of probabilities’.
Teare J
[2012] EWHC 1423 (Comm), [2012] ICR D39
England and Wales
CitedRegina v West London Coroner ex parte Gray CA 1988
Before a coroner’s jury could reach a verdict of unlawful killing, it had to be satisfied ‘that the act or omission of a single person must amount to unlawful conduct which was a substantial cause of death’, although Rule 42 of the Coroners Rules . .

Cited by:
Main JudgmentBraganza v BP Shipping Ltd and Another AdCt 15-Jun-2012
The judge considered the award of costs where the claimant had succeeded in some part of her claim, but failed in others. . .
Appeal fromBraganza v BP Shipping Ltd and Others CA 22-Mar-2013
The claimant widow sued in negligence after the disappearance overboard of her husband from the respondent’s ship. The court had found insufficient evidence to establish the cause of death, either as to negligence as suggested by the claimant, or as . .
At Commercial CourtBraganza v BP Shipping Ltd SC 18-Mar-2015
The claimant’s husband had been lost from the defendant’s ship at sea. The defendant had contracted to pay compensation unless the loss was by suicide. They so determined. The court was now asked whether that was a permissible conclusion in the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 07 August 2021; Ref: scu.459902