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Multi ship collision in Singapore straits - apportioning liability

Dragging & fouling of anchors, involuntary towage, and multiple collisions in crowded Singapore waters – The Tian E Zhou [2018] had it all.

The sequence of events is shown in below illustration. Tian E Zhou and Arctic Bridge settled with Stena Provence. This settlement was without prejudice to the parties’ right to be indemnified by the other. Tian E Zhou and Arctic Bridge were now seeking indemnification from each other. The case throws light on factual causation, legal causation, involuntary towage, and clarifies on application of "but for" test and agony of the moment defence (both of which the Arctic Bridge was relying upon).

Court found that case did not involve a single continuous chain of events stemming from Tian E Zuo's initial negligence, as such “but for” test cannot be relied upon. Defence of “agony of moment” also failed as collision was the result of faults of both vessels. Causative potency and blameworthiness led to a final apportionment of 50:50.

Those interested can read the full case here:

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