A BREACH of the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances) Regulations 1980 gave the claimant the right to pursue a civil claim against his employer.
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of George Ziemniak against a decision that he had no right of action for breach of statutory duty against ETPM Deep Sea Ltd.
The claimant was a marine engineer who suffered serious injuries when he was taking part in a drill to test the launching and recovery of lifeboats on board a merchant vessel. He commenced proceedings against the defendant, claiming damages for personal injury. He alleged that the accident had been caused by the defendant's negligence and/or breach of regulation 43(1) of, and Part II(c) of Schedule 16 to, the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances) Regulations 1980. Those Regulations had been made pursuant to section 21 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1979, but, by virtue of section 17(2)(b) of the Interpretation Act 1978, had effect as if made under section 85 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.
The judge dismissed the claim in negligence. The duty under the regulations was conceded to be an absolute duty. The only issue for the judge's determination was whether a breach of the regulations gave rise to a civil right of action.
The judge concluded that the regulations did not give rise to such a right. The claimant appealed against that decision. The defendant relied on the decision of the Court of Appeal in Todd v Adams  2 All ER (Comm) 97, that a breach of the Fishing Vessel (Safety Provisions) Rules 1975, which had effect as if made under section 121 of the 1995 Act, did not give rise to a civil right of action.
Benet Hytner QC and Mary Ruck (Graham Leigh …