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CHAPTERV 17 - COLLISIONS

Collision - impact of 2 vessels both of which are moving.

Allision - impact between a moving vessel and a stationary one.

For purposes of applying the provisions of the Code of Commerce, collision includes collision per se and allision.
Hence, Collision is an impact or sudden contact of a vessel with another whether both are in motion or one
stationary.

THREE (3) ZONES OF TIME IN THE COLLISION OF VESSELS:

1. First zone – all time up to the moment when risk of collision begins;

2. Second zone – time between moment when risk of collision begins and moment it becomes a practical certainty;

3. Third zone – time when collision is certain and time of impact.

Error in Extremis - sudden movement made by a faultless vessel during the 3rd zone of collision with another vessel
which is at fault during the 2nd zone. Even if such sudden movement is wrong, no responsibility will fall on said faultless
vessel. (Urrutia and Co. v. Baco River Plantation Co., 26 PHIL 632).

RULES ON COLLISION OF VESSELS UNDER CODE OF COMMERCE:

1. The collision may be due to the fault, negligence or lack of skill of the captain, sailing mate, or any other member of
the complement of the vessel. The owner of the vessel at fault be liable for losses or damage. (Art. 826)

2. The collision may be due to the fault of both vessels. Each vessel shall suffer its own losses, but as regards the owner
of cargoes both vessels shall be jointly and severally liable. (Art. 827)

3. If it cannot be determined which vessel is at fault. Each vessel shall also suffer its own losses and both shall be
solidarily liable for losses or damages on the cargoes. (Art. 828)

4. The vessels may collide with each other through fortuitous event or force majeure. In this case each shall bear its own
damage. (Art. 830)

5. Two vessels may collide with each other without their fault by reason of a third vessel. The third vessel will be liable
for losses and damages. (Art. 831)

6. A vessel which is properly anchored and moored may collide with those nearby reasons of storm or other cause of
force majeure. The vessel run into shall suffer its own damage and expense. (Art. 832)

RULES ON LIABILITY:

Although the liability with respect to collision is not governed by quasi-delict, liability in collision cases is still
negligence-based. Thus, the person who caused the injury is both civilly and criminally liable.

SPECIFIC RULES UNDER THE CODE OF COMMERCE:

1. One vessel at fault – such vessel is liable for damage caused to innocent vessel as well as damages suffered by the
owners of cargo of both vessels. The owner of the vessel at fault shall indemnify the losses and damages suffered, after
an expert appraisal.

2. Both vessels at fault – each vessel must bear its own loss, but the shippers of both vessels may go against the ship
owners who will be solidarily liable.

3. Vessel at fault not known (Doctrine of Inscrutable Fault) – same as rule as (2).

4. Third vessel at fault – same rule as (1).

5. Fortuitous event – no liability. Each bears its own loss.

PREREQUISITE TO RECOVERY:

Protest should be made within 24 hours before the competent authority at the point of collision or at the first
port of arrival, if in the Philippines and to the Philippine consul, if the collision took place abroad. (Art. 835) Injuries to
persons and damage to cargo of owners not on board on collision time need not be protested. (Art. 836)

NON-FILING OF PROTEST IS EXCUSED:

1. The persons interested who were not on board or


2. Persons interested were not in a condition to make known their wishes.

DOCTRINE OF LAST CLEAR CHANCE OR CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE NOT APPLICABLE. Thus, if both vessels were
negligently operated, it does not matter if the other has the last clear chance of avoiding the injury because under Art
827, each must suffer its own damage if both of them are negligent. Similarly, proof that the plaintiff was negligent will
bar recovery from the defendant in collision cases even if the plaintiff’s negligence can be classified as merely
contributory.

DOCTRINE OF “INSCRUTABLE FAULT”


In case of collision where it cannot be determined which between the two vessels was at fault, both vessels bear their
respective damage, but both should be solidarily liable for damage to the cargo of both vessels.

NOTE: The Doctrine of Limited Liability applies in case of collisions, but it shall be limited only to the value of the vessel
with all its appurtenances and freightage earned during the voyage. When the latter is not sufficient to cover all the
liabilities, the indemnity due by reason of the death or injury of persons shall have preference. (Arts. 837 and 838)