THE owners of the stricken container ship Rena have won a court battle that might limit the amount of damages they will have to pay people claiming losses from its grounding.
The Rena hit a reef off the coast of Tauranga in October 2011, spilling its cargo and pollutants into the water and along the east coast of the North Island.
In the High Court in Tauranga, Justice Woodhouse said that the case between the ship’s owners and a class action led by a kayak operator, iwi and others with possible claims had limitations.
The owners – Daina Shipping Company, Costamere, Ciel Ship Management and The Swedish Club – had appllied for an order of limitation capping the amount payable if a claim was successful.
“The right to constitute a limitation fund can be seen to be an important feature of the right to limit liability and of the policy underlying limitation of liability,” he was reported as saying by Fairfax NZ.
“If a limitation fund is constituted, this will enable ships, and shipping businesses, to continue to operate, but with claimants at the same time having security for their claims while they are pending, together with a source of recovery if the claim is successful.”
An affidavit from claimants said that after the ship grounded “there was significant oil and other pollution on Mt Maunganui beach and elsewhere”.
The beach was shit to the public for six weeks because of pollution, with combined losses for businesses totalling several million dollars.