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Chua Yek Hong v.

IAC

Facts:

Petitioner loaded 1,000 sacks of copra on board a vessel owned by respondents, for
shipment from Puerto Galera to Manila. Along its way, the vessel capsized and sank.
Petitioner filed an action for damages for breach of contract of carriage.

Issue:

Whether respondents can avail of the limited liability

Held:

The shipowners or agents liability is merely co-extensive with his interests in the vessel
such that the total loss thereof results in its extinction. The total destruction of the vessel
extinguishes maritime liens as there is no longer any res to which it can attach.

The primary law is the Civil Code and in default thereof, the Code of Commerce and
other special laws are applied. Since the Civil Code contains no provisions regulating
liability of shipowners or agents in the event of total loss or destruction of the vessel, it is
the provisions of the Code of Commerce that govern in this case.