SUBMITTED BY: ALAN WILSON E. NABONG
Understanding ancillary contracts
1. Describe the legal implication of a master-pilot relationship.
The Respective Roles and Responsibilities of the Pilot and the Master The compulsory state pilot directs the navigation of the ship, subject to the master’s overall command of the ship and the ultimate responsibility for its safety. The master has the right, and in fact the duty, to intervene or displace the pilot in circumstances where the pilot is manifestly incompetent or incapacitated or the ship is in immediate danger (“in extremis”) due to the pilot’s actions. With that limited exception, international law requires the master and/or the officer in charge of the navigational watch to “cooperate closely with the pilot and maintain an accurate check on the ship’s position and movement.” State-licensed pilots are expected to act in the public interest and to maintain a professional judgment that is independent of any desires that do not comport with the needs of maritime safety. In addition, licensing and regulatory authorities, state and federal, require compulsory pilots to take all reasonable actions to prevent ships under their navigational direction from engaging in unsafe operations. Because of these duties, a compulsory pilot is not a member of the bridge “team.” Nevertheless, a pilot is expected to develop and maintain a cooperative, mutually-supportive working relationship with the master and bridge crew in recognition of the respective responsibility of each for safe navigation. "Pilots hold a unique position in the maritime world and have been regulated extensively both by the State and Federal Government. Some state laws make them public officers, chiefly responsible to the State, not to any private employer. Under law and custom they have an independence wholly incompatible with the general obligations of obedience normally owed by an employee to his employer. 2. Explain the liability for damages done by a pilot to the ship and to a third party. A modern definition of the role of the pilot is provided by article 102 of the Spanish Law of State Ports and the Merchant Marine. This article provides that pilotage is understood as the service of advising the Masters of ships and floating objects on nautical manoeuvres in order to facilitate their safe entry into and exit from a port.
The classification of the pilot as an advisor is not uncontroversial. There has been a debate in many jurisdictions as to whether the pilot's role is merely to advise the master, or whether he actually takes charge of the vessel. Although in practice the pilot will normally be in effective control on board, the fact remains that the master may take back control if he believes it necessary to do so, and therefore the classification of the pilot as an advisor to the master seems to be more appropriate.
In the case of a collision, article 5 of the 1910 Brussels Convention for the unification of certain rules of law relating to collision between vessels provides that the owner of the vessel at fault will be liable when the collision was due to the negligence of a pilot, even if pilotage was compulsory. However, the position regarding liability for incidents other than collisions, for example, liabilities to a port authority for damage to the port installations, is not quite as clear.
The general position is that the pilot is treated as a temporary crewmember. Therefore, the owner will be liable for all loss or damage caused by a ship that is due to the negligence of the pilot, even if pilotage was compulsory and the incident giving rise to the damage cannot strictly be classified as a collision. Thus, section 16 of the English Pilotage Act 1987 provides that: "the fact that a ship is being navigated in an area and in circumstances in which pilotage is compulsory shall not affect any liability of the owner or master of the ship for any loss or...