In late March 2008, there was a collision between the fully laden VLCC Astipalaia and the container ship Hanjin Shenzhen just off Singapore, where Astipalaia was due to discharge. Liability was agreed at 80:20 in favour of Astipalaia. The damages due to Astipalaia were not agreed and have now been fixed by this judgment of the Admiralty Registrar (Master Kay Q.C.).
The major issue concerned the proper approach in assessing Astipalaia’s loss of earnings from the collision, in circumstances where she was fully repaired (physically) by late April 2008, but prejudiced in her trading options for a further two months because due to the collision she lost, and required time to regain, acceptability to oil majors so as to be able to trade normally. It was common ground that this consequence of the collision was reasonably foreseeable.
The court upheld the argument for Astipalaia that damages could and should be awarded, since they could sensibly be quantified with the help of expert evidence as to VLCC spot market earnings, for the entire period during which Astipalaia was impaired in her ability to trade normally. Arguments on behalf of Hanjin Shenzhen that there were principles of law curtailing or precluding such an assessment were rejected. Leading cases, including The Argentino (1888) 13 PD 191 (C/A), 14 App Cas 519 (H/L), The Soya  1 WLR 714 (C/A) and The Vicky 1  2 Lloyd’s Rep. 45 (C/A), were analysed and applied. In particular, the court accepted Astipalaia’s contention that they did not create any rule of law, as claimed by Hanjin Shenzhen, either (a) that damages were limited to earnings lost whilst under repair unless Astipalaia proved what precise fixture would have been performed next, absent the collision, or (b) that if such next fixture were proved, damages were limited to the loss of that fixture.
Andrew W Baker Q.C. appeared for Astipalaia (instructed by Ince & Co LLP).