Mediterranean Freight Services Ltd v BP Oil International Ltd (The Fiona): CA 27 Jul 1994

A ship owner is to have made his ship seaworthy in order to claim an indemnity for dangerous fuel set alight by a third party. He was not entitled to claim where the failure to keep the ship seaworthy was his own.
Hirst LJ said: ‘The inclusion of the words ‘directly or indirectly’ in art. IV, r. 6 does not in any view alter the position, even assuming (as I am inclined to do) that Mr Boyd is right in his submission that those words relate to causation not foreseability, despite the contrast with the York-Antwerp Rules. These two adverbs are of nothing like sufficient strength to fall within Lord Morton’s first exception in Canada Steamships .’
Hoffmann LJ said of the words ‘directly or indirectly’: ‘It seems to me, however, that in their natural meaning they do refer to causation. If so, their effect may be to make the shipper liable not only in cases like the present, where (if the explosive gases had been wholly derived from the fuel oil) one would say that the shipment of dangerous cargo caused the damages, notwithstanding that ignition was provided by the static electricity and the act of the surveyor (compare Philco Radio v. Spurling , [1949] All E.R. 882) but also in cases in which one would ordinarily say that the shipment had merely provided an occasion for something else to cause the damage, e.g. if the gas had been deliberately ignited by an arsonist or the explosion caused by some highly abnormal accident. If this is the effect of the words, they obviously also exclude the Hadley v. Baxendale limitation as well. But even construed in this sense, they do not in my judgment assist the owners.’
Hirst, Hoffmann LJJ
Times 27-Jul-1994, Ind Summary 01-Aug-1994, [1994] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 506
Hague-Visby Rules
England and Wales
Appeal fromMediterranean Freight Services Ltd v BP Oil International Ltd (The Fiona) 1993
A carrier’s right to an indemnity for damage resulting from the transport of dangerous goods, does not depend on whether the shipper knew of the dangerous nature and character of the goods or was at fault in permitting their shipment or not warning . .

Cited by:
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These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 April 2021; Ref: scu.83601