This week on Legally Speaking with Michael Mulligan:
The MV Zim Kingston lost 109 containers, near Vancouver Island, containing everything from yoga mats to car parts and chemicals. Some of the containers, and their contents, have been washing up on Vancouver Island beaches.
One of the legal issues raised by this is the legal right to salvage material.
With thanks to Darren Williams, an expert in marine law, the legal status of the shipping containers is discussed on the show.
The starting point is that the shipping containers are personal property. This does not change because they fell off the ship as the owners haven’t abandoned the property.
In addition to the potential hazard, opening or entering a container could amount to a tort referred to as “trespass to chattels”.
There are circumstances where a shipping container could be “salvaged” by someone who located it. Before attempting to salvage a wreck, however, the salvor must contact the owner before touching the property or, if the owner is unknown or can’t be contacted, the Receiver of Wreck must be contacted. The Receiver of Wreck has authority pursuant to the Canadian Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.
The concept of salvage involves saving a vessel or cargo from loss, rather than just taking something that is on the breach. Where a person engages in the salvage of a vessel or cargo, they may be entitled to reasonable costs and expenses for the salvage. If the Receiver of Wreck is unable to find an owner of the vessel or cargo, the person who salvages it may be awarded the wreck or the money from its sale.
Returning to the containers that fell off the MV Zim Kingston, someone who locates one should call the Canadian Coast Guard at 1-800-889-8852.
Also on the show, October 27 was the first National Duty Counsel Day recognizing the important work performed by Duty Counsel.
In BC, Duty Counsel are private lawyers who are retained, for a modest fee, by the Legal Services Society, to provide summary advice and assistance to people with criminal, family, or immigration law issues, who cannot afford a lawyer and who would otherwise be in court on their own. They can be found at Provincial Court locations around BC on days when recently arrested people or those with family or child protection matters are first attending court.
Duty Counsel can’t conduct trials but can help with bail hearings, guilty pleas, efforts to negotiate family law issues, or the provision of summary advice.
Information concerning the availability of Duty Counsel is available by calling 1-866-577-2525.
Finally, on the show, a Supreme Court Judge granted a statutory injunction ordering a restaurant to close because of repeated failures to check the COVID-19 vaccination status of customers, as is required by a Public Health Order.
The restaurant had been fined, on multiple occasions, and had its business licence revolved, for failing to comply with the Public Health Order.
As a result of the injection, the police will ensure that the restaurant remains closed.