3 Tort law liability
As seen so far, the regulatory gaps doe not fulfil much of the aim initially sought by the Basel and Hong Kong Regimes. These gaps have however not withheld claimants from trying to establish grounds for liability for shipowners’ recycling their vessels at facilities where human health and the environment are not of high importance. A particularly interesting case on the matter is Begum v Maran(1)Begum v Maran (UK) Ltd (Rev 1)  EWHC 1846 (QB); Begum v Maran (UK) Ltd (Rev1)  EWCA Civ 326., where the wife of a former shipyard worker sued the former ship operating company for owing her late husband a duty of care. The legal grounds for the duty of care in the case were argued to be that the defendant owed such duty as the late shipyard worker was their neighbour or that the defendant owed the duty, because the defendant had created the danger exploited by a third party (the shipyard). The case was not determined on its merit but only a preliminary judgement, as the appellant had sought to strike out the case based on its fancifulness. This was however rejected by both the High Court and Appellate Court. The cases therefore pose an interesting contribution to the liability potentially facing shipowners and agents when recycling their vessels, which they will not be able to circumvent by making a decision someplace special or reflagging the vessels.
Before commencing the analysis of the grounds on which the decisions were made, a basic exploration and assessment of English tort law, hereunder especially the development of the duty of care, is laid out.