Legal responsibility of the company that built the submarine Titan



Legal responsibility of the company that built the submarine Titan

The report was written by the legal expert: 

Dr. Sayed Shalaby

In the past days, the submarine Titan set off on a two-hour trip to the wreck of the stricken ship Titanic, but after an hour and forty-five minutes the connection with the support ship was interrupted, andthis caused panic, and many questions about the reason for the interruption of communication, and in that period hundreds of questions were asked about the reasons for the disappearance of the submarine Titan in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean at a depth of about four kilometers, and in the past few hours the controversy over the reasons for the disappearance of the submarine ended and it was found in In the end, there has been an explosion inside the submarine, which is unlike the explosion, which causes a rupture in the physical body, where it occurs and is launched from the inside out, or from the bottom of the outside, unlike the explosion, where the physical body collapses on itself by the force of pressure on it from the outside, which is most likely what happened to the submarine Titan.

After determining the reason for the disappearance of the submarine Titan, questions began about the extent of the legal responsibility of the company (Oceangate) operating the submarine (Titan), and whether the waivers and declarations issued by the passengers of this submarine exempt the company from responsibility?

What is the company's responsibility if the activity is risky?

In this report, we will clarify the answer to all questions.

To what extent is the Titan submarine operator Oceangate responsible for the accident?

In addition to the rules of domestic legislation of each country, there are international rules established by attempts to unify the rules of maritime law internationally.

The responsibility of the shipowner or operator occupies great importance in all international legislation that regulates the provisions of maritime navigation, considering that the shipowner is dominant over the ship's order, and the organization of its voyage, as all legislation has determined the responsibility of the shipowner for errors that occur during the implementation of contracts concluded by him or one of his subordinates, whether they are contractual or tort errors in accordance with the general rules, and maritime custom and traditions have been to determine the responsibility of the shipowner in some cases where his responsibility is raised. Exceptions One of the general rules that makes all the debtor's property a guarantor for the fulfillment of his obligations.

The international community was interested in the issue of determining the responsibility of the shipowner and worked on the need to develop uniform rules by organizing it in order to eliminate the difference arising from national legislation in this regard, and the first international treaty was concluded in Brussels on August 25, 1924 and then canceled by the conclusion of the Treaty of Brussels on October 10, 1957, which adopted the principle of arbitrary determination of the responsibility of the shipowner, and the London Treaty was finally concluded on the first of November 1976, which entered into force on the first of December 1986, The scope of the principle of determining the liability of the shipowner applies to all ships used, whether for commercial navigation, fishing or excursion, in general.

However, we believe that this is not the case with the submarine Titan, according to what was stated that the victims signed waivers of any responsibility to the owner company, and despite the existence of these waivers, these waivers do not affect the rights of the victims' families in the event that they take litigation procedures to seek compensation, according to sources who said that the agreement that was drawn up on the flight and signed by the victims of the passengers mentioned the word "death" three times.

Some legal experts believe that the concessions may not affect the position of the victims' families in the event that they resort to litigation procedures, and this is when the families of the victims prove that the destruction of the submarine (Titan) occurred due to a defect in the construction of the submarine, its design, and the mechanism of operation and control, and in return, the owner company has acknowledged the validity of the submarine to carry out the trip, which was disclosed by the state of reality of the company's determination to make the trip and receive money from the victims.

Another team believes that the owner company can argue that it is not responsible and that the exemption from liability includes the accident, where it is entitled to pay responsibility for it and claim the prescribed exemptions if it can prove that it has identified future victims of deep-sea and ocean risks, and in the event that the company proves that the accident is not due to technical or operational negligence of the submarine, and that it is due to sudden force majeure, and that maritime law, custom and maritime customs grant (Oceangate) the owner company to take action The limitation of liability to pay for liability, which is their right under maritime law, which gives the right to owners of vessels on the high seas that participated in a maritime collision to resort to a federal court to limit the financial damages resulting from the accident.

The burden of proof lies on the owner company, and the evidence must be provided strong in order to prevent legal accountability for the accident, all of this does not prevent the families of the victims and their relatives to claim compensation from any parties or third parties that intervened in the manufacture or design of the submarine (Titan) or intervened in the provision of the industrial component or assisted in the construction of the submarine when the negligence element is achieved on the part of these parties or external parties and that this negligence is what led to the accident and the explosion of the submarine.

We find the situation uncertain when it comes to the legal repercussions of risky activity incidents, even as participants in these activities sign agreements to protect the company from liability.

According to legal experts, there is no specific model for assessing whether a company is required to pay compensation in the event of a mishap.

Legal experts assert that most dangerous tour operators buy liability insurance in any case, because the agreements they require customers to sign may not ultimately be enforceable.

He also argues that the mere existence of a waiver model may not be enough to convince trial counsel, and points out that the vast majority of lawsuits that reach trial eventually end in financial settlements.

Nora Freeman Engstrom, a law professor at Stanford University, said the signed waiver may not exempt the company in the event of an unexplained death.

It can be explained that most waiver forms signed before risky recreational activities such as diving, skydiving or skiing can be enforceable if they are clearly written and included in signed contracts, Engstrom explained.

We are still waiting for the final report of the submarine Titan.