A recent decision of the United States Supreme Court has laid to rest a number of complex problems involved in allocating the burden of proving seaworthiness between shipowners and injured cargo owners. While these general problems are by no means peculiar to maritime law, one plausible explanation for their unusual importance here might be found in the inherent difficulty which confronts the fact-finder when he attempts to accumulate information regarding accidents at sea. Fathoms of water may separate him from his evidence, and even where the source of injury is more accessible, the complex science of navigation and ship construction make impossible, in many instances, a true account of the cause. Whether this be the only reason or not, the fact remains that numerous cases reach issue on the sole question of who should sustain the burden of proof. It is this fact which renders desirable a re-examination of the doctrines under which the courts are now likely to distribute the burden of proving seaworthiness.

Included in

Admiralty Commons