When Real Vallee used an electric saw to cut through a submarine telecommunications cable linking both sides of the St Lawrence River in Canada, he severed more than just phone and Internet connections.

He also managed to touch off a legal battle that would sever his protection under the 1976 Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims in a case with wide implications for shipping law.

Now, Canada’s Supreme Court has agreed to take up his appeal in a legal battle, which has been closely watched by shipping lawyers both in and outside of the country.