In Kamal XXVI (owners and/or demise charterers) v Ariela (owners) – Lawtel 10.1.09 the Claimants were the owners of the Kamal XXVI, a hopper barge (the barge) and the Kamal XXVI, a dredger (the dredger). The Defendants were the owners of 'The Ariela'.

The Ariela collided with the barge, causing the barge to collide with the dredger. At the time of the collision, the Ariela was moving at dead slow ahead, making about four knots and the collision was described as 'gentle'. It was not disputed that the first point of contact between the Ariela and the barge was the port bow, nor that there was no evidence of damage to the barge at that point of contact. The barge itself was surrounded by large tyre fenders. It was also common ground that the barge was in very poor condition prior to the incident and that the dredger had substantial work to be done by way of ordinary wear and tear after two-and-a-half years with no dry docking. There were no maintenance records available for the claimants' vessels and the dredger continued dredging after the collision until it set off for its dry docking and class survey the following month.

At a hearing to determine liability for the collision, the judge ruled that responsibility lay with the owners of the Ariela. The Claimants subsequently claimed damages against the Defendants. The issues which remained to be determined by the court were: (i) the quantum of damages in respect of the damage which the dredger had allegedly sustained and (ii) the quantum of damages in respect of the barge.

The Commercial Court held that on the evidence, the dredger had been in a poor state of maintenance before the collision and the indentation to the hull which the Claimants alleged was attributable to the Defendants could have occurred at any time during the two-and-a-half year period since its last dry docking. On the balance of probabilities, however, one part of the damage to the inner hull could have been a consequence of the collision and the Claimants' claim for damages would therefore succeed in that respect. Concerning the claim for damages to the barge, the Claimants had failed to prove that any fresh damage had been caused to by the collision with the Ariela and, on the evidence, none of the substantial repair costs could be attributed to the Defendants or were recoverable against them.

All the Claimants' claims against the Defendants were dismissed save in the sum of US $6245 in respect of one item of damage to the inner hull.