What is the (if any) Legal relationship between master and pilot ?

There is no legal relationship between Master and Pilot other than that the pilot is engaged in an advisory capacity to provide guidance to the master regarding local conditions.

The Master of the ship is expected to know everything related to the berthing a ship to a berth of a port. Legally the role of the pilot is to

  • Provide local information to the master which may otherwise not be possible to include in the Sailing directions
  • Provide local traffic information, and
  • To have a better cooperation from the port facilities like the tug boats, Berth coordinator and the mooring party 

However after having all these information, it is the master that is responsible for all the delays and damages weather to the ship or to the port facilities.

Very few ports actually will hold the pilot legally responsible for the damages or an accident beacuse of pilot error. In fact most pilot contracts (Which the master acknowledges probably when he signs the pilot slips) clearly states that the pilot is not responsible for any damage.

Manish S

Manish S

Aug 9, 2017

In a very rare incident, the well known Cosco Busan Collision case, the neglect of pilot was admitted for the causes of the incident, leading to his indictment.