Vessel SA v CP Ships (UK) Ltd, Court of Appeal - Admiralty Division, December 03, 2004, [2004] EWHC 3305 (Admlty)

Resolution Date:December 03, 2004
Issuing Organization:Admiralty Division
Actores:Vessel SA v CP Ships (UK) Ltd

BEVERLEY F NUNNERY & CO OFFICIAL SHORTHAND WRITERSBEVERLEY F NUNNERY & COOFFICIAL SHORTHAND WRITERSNeutral Citation Number: [2004] EWHC 3305 (Admlty)Case Nos. 2004 Folio 503 2004 Folio 504IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICEQUEEN'S BENCH DIVISIONADMIRALTY COURTSt. Dunstan's HouseDate: Friday, 3rd December 2004Before:MR. JUSTICE DAVID STEEL- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -B E T W E E N :VESSEL SA Claimant- and -CP SHIPS (UK) LTD. Defendant- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Transcribed by BEVERLEY F. NUNNERY & COOfficial Shorthand Writers and Tape TranscribersQuality House, Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HPTel: 020 7831 5627 Fax: 020 7831 7737- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -MR. D. GOLDSTONE appeared on behalf of the Claimant.MR. C. KARIA appeared on behalf of the Defendant.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -J U D G M E N TMR. JUSTICE DAVID STEEL:1. This is an application by the first defendants to set aside these limitation proceedings which have been served on them on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the claim. 2. The claimants are the owners of two vessels: a tug called The Polago VI and a dumb barge called The Denise. These two vessels suffered a casualty in the River Plate, in which they grounded and/or capsized. The owners of the tug and the barge are the claimants in these limitation proceedings. A number of cargo owners, whose cargo had been damaged in the casualty, brought proceedings in Argentina against the owners. As I understand it, compulsory court mediation in Argentina was unsuccessful, and, accordingly, court proceedings are or are about to get under way against the owners. The court in Argentina has already appointed a court surveyor. Judging from his initial report and an enquiry report from the coastguard, it is likely that there will be a finding that the grounding and capsize was due to an error in navigation on the part of the Master of the tug. If that opinion proves to be well founded, it would follow that the claim against the owners would be unlikely to succeed by virtue of the terms of the relevant contracts of carriage under bills of lading. 3. It is right to record in passing that that the value of the claim that is brought by the cargo owners in total is about $1 million, and that the limit of liability under Argentinean law, which is based upon the post-casualty value of the vessels, would be about $500,000 to $600,000. 4. Claims in Argentina by the cargo owners were also intimated against various shipping lines that had chartered or reserved space on the barge. The defendants are one of those shipping lines. It does not appear as if the proceedings against the shipping lines have been pursued in Argentina but the threat of proceedings in turn prompted the shipping lines, including the first defendant, to threaten to arrest the claimant's vessels. To avoid that arrest the...

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