Anyone who deals with maritime claims will be aware of the importance of obtaining security for a client’s claim so that, should they prevail, there are funds available against which a judgment or award can be enforced.
South Africa is an attractive jurisdiction for obtaining security because the legal system permits a claimant with a suitably qualifying “maritime claim” to arrest not just the ships owned by the defendant but also ships within the associated ownership of the defendant. That is a huge advantage when it comes to arresting ships that may be within a defendant’s fleet but where those ships are each owned by separate special purpose companies.
Our friends at Shepstone have drawn our attention to a recent decision of the South African Supreme Court of Appeal which is evidence of the Courts’ flexible and pragmatic approach to claimants seeking security or (as in this case) seeking to enforce an award. Their article can be found by clicking here.
The main issue in this case was a technical one, namely whether the nature of the claim and the basis of association was properly pleaded in the Writ. At first, the South African Court accepted the defendants’ technical arguments and moved to set aside the arrests of one of the defendants’ associated vessels but this decision was overturned on appeal and the arrests were restored.
South Africa remains an attractive jurisdiction for associated ship arrest and it is of course a key bunkering port for larger vessels which cannot proceed via Suez. Together with our friends in South Africa, we can usually track and arrest vessels on arrival in South Africa for clients who either need to obtain security or, as in this case, to enforce an arbitration award.