Rule re­view after Cheeki Rafiki ver­dict

Yachting Monthly - - NEWS -

The Mar­itime and Coast­guard Agency (MCA) is to look at its mar­itime guid­ance no­tice for com­mer­cial ves­sels MGN 280, after Dou­glas Innes, whose com­pany Storm­force Coach­ing man­aged the yacht Cheeki Rafiki, was found not guilty of man­slaugh­ter.

Four men died when the Beneteau 40.7 lost her keel in 2014. Innes was con­victed in 2017 of fail­ing to en­sure Cheeki Rafiki was op­er­ated in a safe man­ner but the jury failed to reach a ver­dict on man­slaugh­ter charges.

In de­liv­er­ing its not guilty ver­dict at the re­trial, the jury said it was ‘deeply con­cerned’ about MGN 280, which ap­plies to small com­mer­cial ves­sels like char­ter yachts, and rec­om­mended it be re­viewed and tight­ened.

Judge Mr Jus­tice Teare said the tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments for equip­ment and ma­chin­ery in a ves­sel did have le­gal stand­ing, al­though other as­pects of a gen­eral na­ture did not, and should be con­sid­ered best prac­tice.

Through­out the trial there had been con­flict­ing ev­i­dence about whether cod­ing au­thor­i­ties should be no­ti­fied in the event of ground­ing. The court heard Cheeki Rafiki grounded twice in 2013. Nei­ther in­ci­dent was re­ported.

Sec­tion 27.7.3 of MGN 280 states the au­thor­ity should be no­ti­fied

‘in cases where the ves­sel suf­fers ma­jor dam­age’ or ‘mi­nor dam­age detri­men­tal to the safety of the ves­sel’.

Head of the MCA Sir Alan Massey said it would look at the jury’s rec­om­men­da­tions on MGN 280 and would ‘re­view or […] amend the terms of that guid­ance no­tice’ if needed.

Dou­glas Innes has been found not guilty of man­slaugh­ter by gross neg­li­gence

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