Overseas Tankship v. Miller Steamship Case Brief

Summary of Overseas Tankship(DF) v. Miller Steamship (PL), Privy Council, 1966

Relevant Facts: Pl are two owners of 2 ships that were docked at the wharf when the freighter Wagon Mound, (df), moored in the harbor, discharged furnace oil into the harbor. The oil was ignited.

Legal Issue(s): Whether liability, resulting out of damage caused from the fire, was reasonably foreseeable?

Court’s Holding: [T. Ct said not reasonably foreseeable.] Yes

Procedure: Trial ct. judgment for the Df, affirmed by S. Ct. south Wales. Privy Council revered

Law or Rule(s): A man must be considered to be responsible for the probable consequences of his acts. Those consequences must be reasonably foreseeable.

Court Rationale: The findings show that some risks of fire would have been present to the mind of a reasonable person in the shoes of the ship’s chief engineer. Such a RP would only neglect a small risk if it involved considerable expense to eliminate the risk. It doesn’t follow to ignore such a risk. There was no justification for discharging the oil. It was the engineer’s duty and his interest to stop the discharge immediately. The engineer had knowledge that oil had previously ignited in the harbor. Therefor a RP would have realized and foreseen and prevented the risk, and the df is liable for damages.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Damages caused by the discharge of oil were foreseeable to the engineer who had experienced the result previously.

Defendant’s Argument: The ignition of the oil upon the water was not foreseeable.

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