Following the collapse of OW Bunkers, physical bunker suppliers worldwide have had to rethink their business model with respect to the potential debt exposures that they face when conducting business through bunker traders. The matter is further complicated due to the fact that in many cases, there is not just one bunker trader involved, but rather a series of intermediaries, brokers and intermediary traders.
The promulgation of the Companies Act 2008 saw the introduction of a company rehabilitation process termed 'business rescue'. As in many other jurisdictions, a company under business rescue enjoys a temporary moratorium on the prosecution of claims with a view to allowing the distressed company breathing space to reverse its financial difficulties and avoid full-scale liquidation. Against this background, admiralty matters have enjoyed special treatment in the context of claims against insolvent companies.
In a recent case filed in its admiralty jurisdiction, the Supreme Court of Cyprus had to consider whether accidents which take place in the Cyprus exclusive economic zone (EEZ) give jurisdiction to the Cyprus courts. The court decided that it has jurisdiction to hear disputes regarding accidents which occur within its territory, including the Cyprus EEZ, provided that the accident concerns the prospection or exploitation of Cyprus's natural resources.
Can seafarers recover punitive damages from non-employer third parties under the general maritime law? Short answer: it depends on where you are. A recent Circuit Court of the City of Chesapeake, Virginia case is the latest example of inconsistent rulings on the availability of punitive damages under the general maritime law.
A recent decision of the Genoa Court of Appeal dealt with two interesting issues arising under the London International Convention on Salvage 1989: whether, for the purposes of fixing a salvage reward, the judge should consider not only the value of the salved vessel, but also that of the cargo on board; and the apportionment of a salvage reward between co-salvors where only one salvor brought proceedings for its remuneration.
Cyprus recently ratified the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments. Its objective is to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment – especially the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another – and the consequential damage to health and natural resources. To meet this objective, the convention establishes standards and procedures for the management and control of ships' ballast water and sediments.
The chief of naval staff has claimed that the recently promulgated Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution of Vessels and Persons in Nigeria's Maritime Environment 2016 (HSOPs) will provide consolidated guidance for the harmonious management of the arrest, detention and prosecution of vessels and suspects, as well as seizure and forfeiture. However, despite the fanfare that accompanied their launch, the HSOPs have no legal potency or operational clarity.
The Rotterdam District Court recently ruled that a tank storage provider could not invoke the exoneration clause of the General Conditions for Tank Storage in the Netherlands (the VOTOB conditions), which are frequently used by Dutch tank terminals and storage companies. The decision is relevant, as it appears to contravene the rather strict approach adopted in Dutch case law in relation to successfully setting aside a VOTOB exoneration clause.
Since 2009, the Central Bank has carried out semi-annual market surveys of Cyprus residents who provide ship management services to ship-owning companies registered in Cyprus and abroad. The surveys collect data on financial transactions (revenues and expenses) between resident ship management companies and non-residents of Cyprus. The most recent survey, which covers the second half of 2017, was published on April 27 2018.
The Transport Code (formally the Act on Transport Services) is one of the government's key initiatives. The code's main purpose is to create a growth environment for business digitalisation and promote transport business by deregulation. The code will reform the regulation of all transport modes, so that the regulation itself will not become an obstacle to digitalisation, automation and new innovations.
The Dutch courts recently confirmed that a party which is arresting a vessel has no obligation to pay berth fees or any other associated costs during the period that the vessel remains under arrest. This decision is notable, as although it is in line with the traditional understanding, it is one of few decisions to have been issued on this matter in the Netherlands. It will also likely be regarded with interest in other jurisdictions, where different rules concerning the obligations of arresting parties apply.
Law 21,066 recently came into force and amended the Navigation Law in connection with the extraction of sunk or stranded vessels and harmful materials contained therein. The changes strengthen marine environment preservation and navigation safety, and the new faculties granted to the Maritime Authority in respect of ships or craft whose condition poses a risk or danger represent a positive change.
Various questions can arise regarding the service of processes in admiralty proceedings. For example, what happens if a ship (X) is named as the first defendant in a writ of summons, along with a second defendant which is merely referred to as the "owner of X"? Does the action cease to be one in rem? Further, where X is a foreign ship, is leave of court required to effect service on the second defendant? Although a recent Court of Appeal decision is instructive in this regard, it was arguably reached per incuriam.
Under general maritime law, a vessel owner is entitled to the reasonable cost of repair of the vessel, unless this cost exceeds the pre-incident value of the vessel. But can the vessel owner also recover the post-repair loss of market value associated with so-called 'stigma' damages simply because the vessel was repaired following a maritime collision? The court in a recent case answered this question in the negative.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently announced that from January 1 2020, all masters, chief officers and officers in charge of a navigational watch serving on board Cyprus-flagged vessels operating in polar waters must hold the appropriate certificate of proficiency in training, as required by the International Maritime Organisation's International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters.
The court recently assumed that passengers aboard a charter fishing vessel were within the 'zone of danger', but still dismissed their claims based on insufficient evidence of injury. According to the court, mere presence in the zone of danger, without more, is insufficient to support a claim for purely emotional injuries under the general maritime law. In short, if you want the court to believe that you have genuine, compensable, emotional injuries, see a medical professional.
The Department of Merchant Shipping recently announced the publication of the Essential Requirements (Recreational Craft and Personal Watercraft) Regulations 2017. The new regulations set required standards for design and construction and exhaust and noise emissions. They apply to recreational and personal craft, specified components when placed on the EU market, engines and engine conversions and substantial modifications to vessels.
Maritime claims arise in relation to the ownership, possession, mortgage and general operation of a ship and are primarily enforced by an admiralty action in rem or in personam. Admiralty actions do not last forever; rather, they have prescribed limitation periods, which often vary depending on the type of claim. Thus, if a claim is not brought within the time prescribed by the relevant law or contract, a party with an otherwise valid claim will generally lose its right of action on that claim.
The High Court of Western Denmark recently decided in favour of a Danish cost insurance and freight (CIF) seller in a jurisdiction dispute involving a Czech buyer. The court found that the CIF clause agreed under the International Commercial Terms 2010 stipulated that the place of delivery under the contract was located in Denmark and that the Danish court seized had enjoyed jurisdiction under the EU Brussels I Regulation.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping has announced that the email addresses of its personnel and departments have been changed following its conversion from a department of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works to a deputy ministry. To ensure a smooth transition, the existing email addresses of ministry personnel will remain valid until June 30 2018 and departmental email addresses will remain valid until April 30 2019.