The claimant company was engaged in tuna fish culture off shore to Malta. The defendant ship was owned by a charity which campaigned against breaches of animal preservation conventions. Fish were being transporting live blue fin tuna in towed underwater cages. The defendant ‘attacked’ the cages causing much damage, on the basis that the fish had been caught illegally. The claimant denied this. The parties now disputed the responsibility of the ship owner for the torts of its captain.
Held: The claim against the ship’s paper owners failed. The practical reality is that at all times it was SSCS which had possession and control of the ‘STEVE IRWIN’, and ‘Although beneficial ownership does not carry with it the right to possession and control, in this case it helps to explain how and why possession and control was as a matter of fact exercised throughout by SSCS. Though there was no bareboat charter and such an arrangement would be necessary to transfer the right of possession to SSCS. However, if, as was the case, SSCS and SSUK acted on the basis that the ‘STEVE IRWIN’ was in SSCS’s possession and control there would be no need for any such formal arrangement. Watson and the crew were acting on behalf of SSCS and not SSUK or SSCS and SSUK whilst on board the ‘STEVE IRWIN’ during the Blue Rage campaign and at the time of the incident.’
Hamblen J set out the principles for establishing accessory liability in tort: ‘In respect of the common design issue, persons may be joint tortfeasors when their respective shares in the commission of a tort are done in furtherance of a common design . . The joint tortfeasor needs to join or share in the commission of the tort which generally means some act which at least facilitates its commission. . . there is no tortious liability for aiding and abetting or facilitating the commission of a tort, even knowingly. There may, however, be such a liability if that is done pursuant to a common design . . In considering whether there is any such liability it is relevant to consider whether the person has been so involved in the commission of the tort as to make the infringing act his own’
and ‘In summary, it is apparent that none of the matters relied upon by the claimant were of any real significance to the commission of the tort. The main thrust of the claimant’s pleaded case was that the attack was directed or authorised or carried out by [the appellant]. Once it is found that Watson and the crew were not acting on behalf of [the appellant] the claimant has to rely on participation which is remote in time and place. Whether considered individually or collectively I find that the matters so relied upon are of minimal importance and played no effective part in the commission of the tort.’
 EWHC 1717 (Admlty),  2 Lloyd’s Rep 409
England and Wales
Cited – The Koursk CA 1924
The navigators of two ships had committed two separate torts or one tort in which they were both tortfeasors.
Held: Three situations were identified where A might be jointly liable with B for B’s tortious act. Where A was master and B servant; . .
Cited – CBS Songs Ltd v Amstrad Consumer Electronics Plc CA 1987
Persons other than the Attorney General do not have standing to enforce, through a civil court, the observance of the criminal law as such. However, Sir Denys Buckley considered that such a claim might be maintained as a representative action . .
Cited – CBS Songs Ltd v Amstrad Consumer Electronics Plc HL 12-May-1988
The plaintiffs as representatives sought to restrain Amstrad selling equipment with two cassette decks without taking precautions which would reasonably ensure that their copyrights would not be infringed by its users.
Held: Amstrad could only . .
Cited – Unilever Plc v Gillette (UK) Limited CA 1989
Unilever claimed infringement of its patent. The court was asked whether there was a good arguable case against the United States parent company of the existing defendant sufficient to justify the parent company to be joined as a defendant and to . .
Cited – Generale Bank Nederland Nv (Formerly Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland Nv) v Export Credit Guarantee Department CA 23-Jul-1997
The bank claimed that it had been defrauded, and that since an employee of the defendant had taken part in the fraud the defendant was had vicarious liability for his participation even though they knew nothing of it.
Held: Where A becomes . .
Cited – SABAF SpA v MFI Furniture Centres Ltd and Another CA 11-Jul-2002
The appellant challenged dismissal of its claim for patent infringement. The judge had held that the design was obvious, involving essentially only the collocation of two known features.
Held: Collocation was no more than a species of . .
Cited – Monsanto Plc v Tilly and Others CA 30-Nov-1999
A group carried out direct action in protesting against GM crops by pulling up the plants. The group’s media liaison officer, while not actually pulling up plants himself, ‘reconnoitred the site the day before. He met the press at a prearranged . .
Appeal from – Fish and Fish Ltd v Sea Shepherd Uk and Others CA 16-May-2013
The claimant company sought damages after their transport of live tuna was attacked by a protest group. They now appealed against a decision that the company owning the attacking ship was not liable as a joint tortfeasor.
Held: The appeal was . .
At first instance – Sea Shepherd UK v Fish and Fish Ltd SC 4-Mar-2015
Accessory Liability in Tort
The court considered the concept of accessory liability in tort. Activists had caused damage to vessels of the respondent which was transporting live tuna in cages, and had caused considerable damage. The appellant company owned the ship from which . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 24 April 2021; Ref: scu.467653