By Lexology.com

In a much awaited decision, the Supreme Court of Canada examined the standard of fault constituting conduct barring limitation under Article 4 of the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976 (“Limitation Convention”) and whether the same behavior constitutes wilful misconduct voiding insurance coverage under the Marine Insurance Act.

Mr. Vallée is a crab fisherman from the lower St-Lawrence River. A fibre-optic submarine cable became entangled with his fishing gear. He raised the cable to the deck of his ship and proceeded to cut the cable with a chain saw.    He was under the mistaken belief that the fibre-optic  cable was not in use. That belief was based on a handwritten note on some sort of map that he had briefly seen in a museum. The marine charts of the area indicated the presence of a live cable. The result was $1 million of damage. As the trial judge put it, Mr. Vallée was a good man who did a very stupid thing.

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