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21 January 2015
Two first-instance judgments of the Admiralty Court issued in 2013 were addressed in previous updates (for further details see: "Court considers application for third-party intervention in admiralty action" and "Never too early to intervene: court revisits third-party intervention"). Both judgments related to the same action (8/2012). In each case the applicant filed for review by the full bench of the Supreme Court in its admiralty jurisdiction.
Delaford Trading Limited was engaged in a separate action (20/2012) in the Admiralty Court against the ship AVANTIS II for the provision of bunkers and lubricants. On September 6 2012 it filed an application seeking leave of the court to be added as a defendant (or alternatively to be allowed to intervene) in Action 8/2012 which the Cooperative Bank of Evoias had instituted against the ship, to dispute the bank's claim against the ship, deriving from loans that the bank claimed to have provided to the ship's owners.
SKP Enterprises Limited was the judgment creditor in another action (30/2011) against the ship for recovery of debts for the provision of bunkers and lubricants. Through a separate application dated February 13 2012, filed within the context of that action, the ship was sold pendente lite when the litigation was pending. The purpose of the application was to allow the applicant to dispute the claim against the ship put forward by the bank.
Both applications at first instance were brought under Rules 30 and 35 of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Order, with Delaford and SKP claiming respectively that they had an interest in the property affected by the bank's action. The applications were rejected and Delaford and SKP applied for review.
The Supreme Court found that Rule 30 did not apply in either case and that only Rule 35 was of relevance. It provides that:
"The parties named in the writ of summons, and every person interested in the property sought to be affected by the action who desires to dispute the Plaintiff's claim shall appear before the Court or Judge either personally or by advocate at the time named in that behalf in the writ of summons."
The following principles were set out(1):
The simple fact that all actions against a vessel are scheduled on the same day or that different parties may be represented by the same lawyers does not by itself lead to a conclusion that the filing of an application to intervene long after the event may be an abuse of court procedure. Since the bank in this case did not proceed with the issuance of a judgment in its favour, and provided that there had been no intentional delay in filing the application to intervene, SKP's application could not be rejected on the basis of this reason alone.
For further information on this topic please contact Vassilis Psyrras at Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC by telephone (+357 25 110 000), fax (+357 25 110 001) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC website can be accessed at www.neocleous.com.
(1)The leading judgment was in SKP's application for review of the interim judgment dated July 4 2013, which the court adopted with some additional remarks in Delaford's application for review of the interim judgment dated February 25 2013.
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