Marine Inquiries

  • Michael White QC


After any shipping casualty has occurred (eg., a sinking, collision, grounding, death or personal injury due to accident at sea) it has been the custom for an inquiry to be made into its circumstances to see if steps could be taken to improve safety procedures to avoid the recurrence of a similar casualty and to investigate whether any of the mariners involved has fallen below the requisite level of expertise or conduct. Marine inquiries in Australia take several different forms, which form is determined by the Act under which they are held. There have been a number of them over the years of which two of the better known ones arose out of the collision between HM AS Melbourne and HMAS Voyager off the NSW coast on 10 February 1964. These inquiries were by Royal Commission under the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth). Most inquiries, however, come under specific provision made for them by Commonwealth and State legislation which will be mentioned shortly. Like most of the maritime customs and regulations in Australia, the source of such inquires comes from English (Imperial) legislation, in this case the various versions of the Merchant Shipping Acts. . . It is the purpose of this article to discuss some of the authorities and the legislative provisions in relation to marine inquiries. It is impracticable to discuss all of the legislation in each State so the article will concentrate on the provisions under the English legislation, then look at the Commonwealth legislation, in the Navigation Act \ 912 (Cth), and finally the Queensland State legislation. This is followed by discussion of the principles which are generally called into play in marine inquiries. It is convenient to look at the English provisions first.
Oct 30, 1993
How to Cite
WHITE QC, Michael. Marine Inquiries. QUT Law Review, [S.l.], v. 9, p. 61-79, oct. 1993. ISSN 2201-7275. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 01 feb. 2021. doi:
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