Court of Appeal of Tonga, Shipping Corporation of Polynesia Ltd v Rex, 30 September 2011


This case law summary was developed as part of the Disaster Law Database (DISLAW) project, and is not an official record of the case.

Geographical Area
Asia Pacific
Case Name
Shipping Corporation of Polynesia Ltd v Rex
Case Reference
[2011] TOCA 13
Name of Court
Court of Appeal of Tonga
Decision and Reasoning
The Court found that there was no legislation which allowed the Courts to require a portion of a fine to be paid to individuals or organisations other than the plaintiff, which in this case was the Crown. Nor could the Court direct the Crown to allocate a portion of the fines imposed to a particular group. Therefore, this part of the appeal was allowed.

Although the Court found that the financial position of the defendant is a relevant factor which should be taken into account in sentencing, in their view, the consequences of sending an unseaworthy vessel to sea needed to be made clear. The Court agreed with the trial judge that a strong message needed to be sent.

Although the Court noted the differences in economies between the UK and Tonga, they emphasised that the offending was extremely serious and deserved a very significant penalty.

In determining what was an appropriate fine, the Court took into account that the defendant was convicted of a number of charges relating to the same transaction, stating that it was reasonable to treat the total offending as the equivalent of one offence. For this reason, the Court reduced the fines of the five unseaworthiness convictions to a nominal amount.
The Court upheld the fine imposed for manslaughter, however, reduced the fines of the five charges relating to unseaworthiness to T$100 pa’anga each.