The Libyan Maritime Law considers collisions as accidents that occur between vessels. Although a collision is commonly believed to require physical contact, the Libyan Maritime Law allows victims to recover from tortfeasors even if no physical contact has occurred, where damage by an act or failure to act or violation of navigation rules is caused to another vessel, the goods or persons aboard the vessel (Article 241 of Libyan Maritime Law).
In case of a “collision,” as defined under the Libyan Maritime Law, persons or cargo aboard a ship involved in the collision or an innocent third party may recover for damages and losses suffered. However, the physical contact between ship and structures, such as a bridge or dock, is not considered by the Libyan Maritime Law as a collision, and in fact constitutes tortious liability.
For a collision to have occurred, the accident must have caused by either a fault of a vessel or force majeure, or unidentified cause. The fault of a vessel is extremely important in determining the liability for damages. If a Court determines one vessel is at fault for the collision, the owner of the vessel will be held liable for paying damages to successful claimant(s) (Art. 238 of Libyan Maritime Law).
In case where a Court determines that both vessels are jointly at fault, then the Court will accord liability to ships in accordance to the amount of blame of each vessel (Art. 239 of the Libyan Maritime Law). Courts may be faced with the difficulty of determining the allocation of fault, such as when evidence is vague and does not permit the court to determine who is at greater fault. In case where the fault of the vessels is difficult to determine, courts will find both vessels equally at fault.