The Federal Court recently issued an important decision regarding whether the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund (“SOPF”) can recover for pollution clean-up costs from a company (or its’ principal shareholder) that was not the actual owner of a barge, but that remained, through inadvertence, the registered owner: see The Administrator of the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund v. Dr. Jim Halvorson Medical Services Ltd., and others, 2019 FC 35.
David Jarrett and Glen Krueger successfully defended the claim for the former owner of the barge. The Federal Court accepted the defendants’ argument that the former owner (even though still identified as the registered owner) was not liable for the pollution clean-up costs as the former owner did not fall within the definition of owner as set out in section 75 of the Marine Liability Act given that actual ownership and control over the barge had been transferred to another person several years earlier. The SOPF was also unsuccessful in its’ attempt to pierce the corporate veil and obtain recovery from the primary shareholder of the defendant company. The court awarded lump-sum costs to the defendants in light of their success.
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