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Both-to-Blame Collision Clause


The Both-to-Blame Collision Clause is a provision commonly found in marine insurance contracts. It states that if both parties are at fault in a collision between two ships, each party must pay for its own damages, and they also share the cost of the other’s damages equally. This clause protects the interests of both parties in a maritime accident by sharing the liability.


The phonetics for “Both-to-Blame Collision Clause” would be:/boʊθ tuː bleɪm kəˈlɪʒən klɔːz/

Key Takeaways


  1. The Both-to-Blame Collision Clause is a provision in maritime law where if two vessels are deemed mutually at fault in an accident, both vessels’ insurers shall share the cost of the damages. The distribution of the costs is in line with the respective degree of fault.
  2. This clause exists to protect the interests of both parties involved in a collision at sea. It is particularly relevant in situations where it is not entirely clear which vessel was at fault, or where both were at fault to some degree.
  3. However, this clause has been controversial as it is often seen as unfair to cargo owners. If the ship carrying the cargo is partially responsible for the collision, the cargo owners may have to contribute to the general average claim, even if they were not at fault.



The Both-to-Blame Collision Clause is a crucial term in business and finance, specifically in maritime law and insurance. It is important because it safeguards a carrier’s interests in the event of a collision at sea where both vessels involved are at fault. This clause ensures that cargo owners share in the liability for the damage irrespective of which ship they had their cargo on. Essentially, it implies that if a sea vessel has an accident involving another ship, and both parties share the blame for the collision, the cargo owners must compensate the carrier proportionately for the total loss faced. Therefore, it helps reduce the financial burden on carriers and provides a measure of protection against large-scale losses.


The Both-to-Blame Collision Clause plays a significant role in situations involving maritime transport and cargo shipping, aimed at ensuring fair liability sharing for damage to ships and cargo. The ocean has long been a vital conduit for global trade, necessitating comprehensive laws and clauses to manage the risks associated with maritime activities. As such, the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause addresses incidents in which two vessels collide and both are found to be at fault.Its practical implementation lies in determining financial responsibility when there is a collision between two ships at sea. In standard maritime law, if both vessels were to blame for the collision, each one would be liable for their damages and the damage to the cargo they were carrying. However, the cargoes, listed as third parties, were often left uncompensated for their losses. Implementing this clause reroutes liability, ensuring that cargo owners are not unfairly saddled with financial damages because the vessels involved in the collision were mutually at fault. It stipulates that even if both vessels are to blame, the vessel carrying the cargo must fully compensate the cargo owner, and can then claim half the value back from the other vessel, ensuring a fair distribution of financial responsibility.


The Both-to-Blame Collision clause is a standard clause in maritime law, specifically concerning bill of lading contracts. It mainly deals with situations where two vessels (ships) collide and both are found to be partially at fault. Here are three hypothetical examples that demonstrate the application of the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause. 1. Two major shipping companies, “Cargo Corp” and “Maritime Movers” , could have vessels involved in a collision in the Suez Canal. Both vessels were found at fault. According to the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause, both shipping companies will be held jointly responsible for the damages, and the ensuing expenses will be distributed proportionally.2. An oil tanker owned by the “Global Petroleum Co.” collides with a container ship owned by “TransOceanic Logistics”. A court finds that the oil tanker was 70% at fault due to a failure in their navigation system, and the container ship was 30% at fault for sailing at unsafe speeds. Based on the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause, both companies will pay for the damage according to their degree of blame.3. “CrossSea Shipping” and “Nautical Navigation” find that their ships have collided in the Mersey River in England. Fault cannot be diagnosed to one sole party, proving both were equally at fault. Under the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause, both companies will split the damages and associated costs equally.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause?

The Both-to-Blame Collision Clause is a standard provision in maritime contracts. It states that if two vessels are involved in a collision, both of them would be held equally accountable for the mishap, regardless of who was primarily responsible.

Who uses the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause?

The Both-to-Blame Collision Clause is typically used in the shipping and maritime industry. It is incorporated into bills of lading, charter parties, and other carriage of goods contracts.

Why is the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause necessary?

This clause is necessary to equally distribute the financial responsibility of any damage or losses caused by a collision, even if one vessel is found to be more at fault than the other.

What are the implications of the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause for cargo owners?

Cargo owners may bear some of the financial impacts from this clause. If their goods are being transported by a vessel involved in a collision, and the fault is deemed to be shared, they are still held financially liable.

How can one mitigate the impact of the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause?

Cargo owners may choose to purchase ‘Both to Blame Collision’ liability insurance. This coverage protects cargo owners’ interests by covering costs that may be incurred due to this clause.

Are there any controversies related to the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause?

Yes, the clause can be controversial as it may seem unfair to hold both parties equally accountable for damage when one may bear the majority of the fault. Some contend that this encourages irresponsible naval behavior, as parties are just as liable regardless of their negligence.

Where can one find the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause?

This clause can usually be found in maritime contracts under the terms and conditions of agreement. It can also be found in the clauses of marine insurance policies.

Is the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause legally enforceable worldwide?

The enforcement of the clause varies depending on the region and the specific jurisdictions involved due to differences in maritime laws across the world. It’s always important to seek legal counsel to better understand these kinds of variable legal scenarios.

Related Finance Terms

  • Marine Insurance: This is the broader category of insurance under which the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause falls. Marine insurance covers the loss or damage of ships, cargo, terminals, and any transport by which the property is transferred, acquired or held between the points of origin and the final destination.
  • General Average: This is a principle of maritime law where all parties in a sea venture proportionally share any losses resulting from a voluntary sacrifice of part of the ship or cargo to save the whole in an emergency.
  • Collision Liability: This refers to the responsibility that is borne by a party involved in an accident, which has caused damage to another vessel or property.
  • Subrogation: This is a term used when an insurer recovers the amount of claim it has paid to its insured from the one who is legally liable for the loss. In the context of both-to-blame collision clause, this concept applies when insurers seek recovery from liable parties.
  • Bill of Lading: This is a legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper that details the type, quantity and destination of the goods being carried. This may be a significant document in cases involving the Both-to-Blame Collision Clause.

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