In 1982, after alterations to the boat intended to reduce its length to below 12 metres, the boat was re-measured by Customs. They entered its new dimensions in the register and on 19 April 1982 they issued a new certificate of registry recording the register length of the boat as 11.98 metres.
On 26 July 1985 a surveyor from the Department of Trade and Industry questioned the accuracy of that record, but Customs took no action. On 30 March Customs extended the http://www.perthpropertyvaluations.net.au validity of the certificate of registry to 18 April 1992 but they omitted to amend the register length on the certificate which remained at 11.98 metres. Agents acting on behalf of the Ps during the transaction had not applied for a transcript of the register before the transaction was completed.
In early 1989 the Registrar of Fishing Vessels refused an application to register Mr P’s son as the new owner of the boat. The Registrar said that according to their records the boat’s register length was 13.30 metres and that it therefore required a safety certificate, as a boat over 12 metres length, before it could be used for fishing. The Ps tied the boat up and on 7 August 1991 they sold the boat for £10,000. On 15 June 1994 the Ps asked Customs for compensation of about £50,000 for loss of earnings and other losses caused by Customs’ mistake. On 6 December Customs told the Ps that it might be possible to make them an ex gratia payment of £5,000.
I found that there were doubts about whether Customs had properly fulfilled their statutory duties in respect of the measurement and registration of the dimensions of the boat. I also found that Customs had erred when they had recorded the register length of the boat in 1982 and that in 1985 they had missed an opportunity to correct that mistake.