Collision disputes brought before the UK Admiralty Court traditionally require the completion of a Collision Statement of Case (CSoC). The requirements surrounding what information must be provided in a CSoC have recently been reformed, with these changes applying to all actions commenced after 8 April 2023. Underwriters, brokers and claims handlers need to be aware of these reforms to ensure that all relevant information can be recorded in a CSoC upon commencement of litigation at a later date.
Admiralty Court Collision Statement of Case
The requirements for the CSoC are contained within the Civil Procedure Rules Part 61 and come in two parts.
Part 1 of the CSoC requires each party to make a submissions regarding the collision detailing:
- the ships involved
- engine power
- the place and time of the collision
- when and how the other ship was first seen
- how the ship was navigated in response.
Part 2 of the CSoC requires details of:
- the allegations made about negligence
- the Collision Regulations alleged to have been breached.
Before the VDR (Voyage Data Recorder) and the AIS (Automatic identification System) formed a mandatory part of a vessel’s bridge equipment, the principal line of enquiry at trial was to demonstrate the facts of the collision, leaving relatively limited scope for investigation into the reason behind the collision.
However, the VDR - boosted by audio and video recordings and AIS data tracking - has changed this process, rendering much more scope to investigate the reasons for the collision. This warranted a long felt need for reform of Part 61 of the CPR 61.
Reforms to the Admiralty Court Collision Statement of Case (CSoC)
The highlights of the reforms can be summarised as below:
- The existing requirement of exchange of electronic track data pre-CSoC has been amended by a requirement that, if only one party has such data, it must provide it.
- Eight additional questions have been added to Part 1 of the CSoC:
i. Who was present on the bridge during the collision, including their role, experience, and nationality?
ii. Provide a description of the navigational equipment on the bridge and indicate whether it was in use at the time of the collision. If radar was being used, specify the type, range, and display settings.
iii. What equipment capturing electronic track data, such as VDR, ECDIS, or other devices, was installed on the ship? Was it operational during the collision, and if not, explain why?
iv. Specify the available electronic track data at the time of the collision and confirm whether it has been retained and disclosed. If not, provide a reason.
v. Were there audio recording of conversations that occurred on the bridge during the collision?
vi. Was the vessel required to broadcast AIS data? If so, was AIS data being broadcasted at the time of the collision? If not, explain why.
vii. Was the vessel engaged in fishing? If yes, provide details of the fishing gear deployed.
viii. Was the vessel power-driven and restricted in its ability to manoeuvre?
- The sequence of material events pre-collision, all allegations of causative negligence and other faults, and any other material facts and matters relied on must now be recorded on Part 2 of the CSoC.
- A timeline with regards to the CSoC has been established. Defence and a response to the CSoC must be filed within 28 days. Any reply, which is optional, must be served within 21 days of the defence.
In our view, these reforms were long overdue, reflecting the rapid technological advancements and changes which the marine industry is going through presently. These reforms will no doubt add to efficiency and transparency in collision cases by facilitating early case preparation, and ultimately a more effective trial.
Marine insurance practitioners will need to be aware of these latest reforms and their initial actions following a collision must be guided by these amendments. This will be necessary in order to avoid any procedural disputes at a later date and will assist in a timely and amicable resolution of the claim.