Liesbosch Dredger (Owners of) v Owners of SS Edison, The Liesbosch: HL 28 Feb 1933

The ship Edison fouled the moorings of the Liesbosch resulting in the total loss of the dredger when it sank. It had been engaged on work in the harbour under contract with the harbour board. All the owners’ liquid resources were engaged in the contract, and their deposit under the contract was forfeit if the work was delayed. They were unable to raise the funds that were needed to buy another dredger, so they hired another, the Adria, which was more expensive to hire and work. Due entirely to their lack of means, the owners incurred much more expense in the provision of an alternative dredger than they would have done if they had been able to purchase an equivalent. The owners of the Liesbosch claimed their actual loss, on the basis that all the circumstances should be taken into account and they had acted reasonably in hiring the Italian vessel in view of their financial embarrassment.
Held: The sum awarded as damages was restricted to the market price of a comparable dredger at the time of the loss, together with the cost of transporting her and insuring her to Patras. The court should not take into account a claimant’s want of means when assessing the amount of his loss. The principle enunciated in the Clippens oil case was as to the existence of any duty of mitigation.
Lord Wright said that: ‘it follows that the value of the Liesbosch to the appellants, capitalized as at the date of the loss, must be assessed by taking into account: (1.) the market price of a comparable dredger in substitution; (2.) costs of adaptation, transport, insurance, etc., to Patras; (3.) compensation for disturbance and loss in carrying out their contract over the period of delay between the loss of the Liesbosch and the time at which the substituted dredger could reasonably have been available for use in Patras, including in that loss such items as overhead charges, expenses of staff and equipment, and so forth thrown away, but neglecting any special loss due to the appellants’ financial position.’


Lord Wright


[1933] AC 449, [1933] All ER Rep 144, [1933] 149 LT 49, [1933] UKHL 2




England and Wales


DistinguishedClippens Oil Co v Edinburgh and District Water Trustees HL 1907
A wrongdoer must take his victim as he finds him, and be answerable for the consequences which actually flow from his wrongful act.
Lord Collins said: ‘In my opinion the wrongdoer must take his victim talem qualem, and if the position of the . .
CitedThe Harmonides 1903
The measure of damages for the loss of a profitable ship is to include its economic value: ‘So that the real test, where there is no market is, as counsel on both sides agree, what is the value to the owners as a going concern, at the time the . .

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CitedParry v Cleaver HL 5-Feb-1969
PI Damages not Reduced for Own Pension
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CitedCompania Financiera v Hamoor Tanker Corporation (‘the Borag’) CA 1981
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 07 June 2022; Ref: scu.182979