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Can floating pontoons be considered 'a dock'?

Certain states such as UK allow dock owners too to limit their liability, just as ship owners, charterers etc. Questions can arise on whether a certain structure is a dock. How about a marina which is an arrangement of floating pontoons? In Holyhead Marina v Farrer [2020], owners of the crafts damaged by storm Emma whilst they were moored in the marina were seeking to claim £5m from marina’s owner on account of its design & maintenance related failures.

As per the court, although the pontoons which made up the Marina did not fit the dictionary definition of a dock, they nonetheless were within the extended statutory definition, qualifying as a landing place and a jetty.

Coming to the question on limitation amount, in this case it was to be based either on a 300 GT yacht that docked in the marina or a 43k GT ferry that regularly docked in the harbour. Based on ferry’s tonnage, limitation amount would have far exceeded the claim amount. Answer depended on whether marina’s owners discharged functions beyond its boundaries. As per the court, marina did communicate with vessels in the harbour via VHF but only with regard to matters affecting the Marina such as berthing. Limitation amount was therefore to be based on yacht's tonnage and was assessed to be £0.5m.

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