Steamship ‘Beechgrove’ Co, Ltd v Aktieselskabet ‘Fjord’ of Christiania: HL 18 Oct 1915

The Merchant Shipping Act 1894, sec. 633, enacts-‘An owner or master of a ship shall not be answerable to any person whatever for any loss or damage occasioned by the fault or incapacity of any qualified pilot acting in charge of that ship within any district where the employment of a qualified pilot is compulsory by law.’
The Clyde Navigation (Consolidation) Act 1858 defines the western limit of the river Clyde as a line drawn from Newark Castle to the mouth of the Cardross Burn-that is, about 4 miles east or up the river from Greenock-and it makes it unlawful for anyone to navigate without a pilot a vessel in any part of the river as defined by the Act. It also confers power on a pilot board to make bye-laws regulating the pilotage in the river and in the Firth. By these bye-laws Greenock is the place for taking up and dropping river pilots, and when on board a pilot is to be in control of the vessel.
Held ( rev. judgment of the First Division) that there is no exemption from liability between Greenock and the line between Newark Castle and the mouth of the Cardross Burn, either under the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, or ( dub. Lord Dunedin) at common law.

The Lord Chancellor (Buckmaster), Lord Shaw, Lord Parmoor, and Lord Wrenbury
[1915] UKHL 13, 53 SLR 13


Updated: 30 November 2021; Ref: scu.620700