The Rena owners have had a significant victory that might allow them to limit the amount of money they will have to pay to people who claim they have suffered losses after the container ship's grounding.
In the High Court in Tauranga today, Justice Woodhouse said the case between the owners of the Rena and a class action led by kayak operator Nevan Lancaster, iwi and others with potential claims had limitations.
The owners, including the Daina Shipping Company, Costamere, Ciel Ship Management and The Swedish Club, applied for an order for limitation of liability that puts a cap on the amount payable to successful claimants.
Justice Woodhouse said he was satisfied there was a possibility that a "limitation fund" could be set up as security for the ship owners.
"The right to constitute a limitation fund can be seen to be an important feature of the right to limit liability and of the policy underlying limitation of liability," he said.
"If a limitation fund is constituted, this will enable ships, and shipping businesses, to continue to operate, but with claimants at the same time having security for their claims while they are pending, together with a source of recovery if the claim is successful."
In an affidavit, Lancaster said that after the Rena grounded "there was significant oil and other pollution on Mt Maunganui beach and elsewhere".
He said the beach was shut to the public for about six weeks because of the pollution and that over this period he could not trade.
He said he lost an estimated $3000 in rental income.
About 40 businesses were represented at a meeting in Tauranga to discuss their chances of recouping their losses after the Rena grounded on the Astrolabe Reef in October 2011.
Lancaster said the combined losses for the businesses reached several million dollars.
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