Mariola Marine Corporation v Lloyd’s Register of Shipping [1990] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 547.



A ship known as the ‘Morning Watch’ had been issued a class certificate by the defendant, Lloyds Register of Shipping, despite the fact that it had a variety of defects which rendered it unseaworthy. The ship was purchased by the plaintiff in reliance on the class certificate. Upon discovering the problems with the vessel, the buyer sought to recover his losses from Lloyd’s Register, arguing that it was foreseeable and reasonable that he had relied on the class certificate.


The issue was whether Lloyd’s Register owed any duty of care to a subsequent purchaser of a ship for which it issued a certificate, to make sure that the certificate reflected the true state of the ship.


The Court determined that no relationship of proximity sufficient to form the basis of a duty of care in negligence existed between Lloyd’s and a third party purchaser such as the claimant. The Court appeared to be heavily influenced by consideration of the public purpose of the Lloyd’s register, noting that “[t]he primary purpose of the classification system is…to enhance the safety of life and property at sea, rather than to protect the economic interests of those involved…in shipping” (p. 9). To impose liability in negligence on Lloyd’s would undermine their ability to perform this important function. This consideration appeared to override the application of the usual principles for establishing a duty of care drawn from Caparo Industries plc v Dickman [1990] UKHL 2.