Sea Tractor, Owners of the Tug & Ors v Tramp, Owners of the Ship, Court of Appeal - Admiralty Division, January 18, 2007, [2007] 2 Lloyd's Rep 363,[2007] EWHC 31 (Admlty)

Resolution Date:January 18, 2007
Issuing Organization:Admiralty Division
Actores:Sea Tractor, Owners of the Tug & Ors v Tramp, Owners of the Ship
 
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Neutral Citation Number: [2007] EWHC 31 (Admlty)

Case No: 2006 FOLIO 402

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

ADMIRALTY COURT

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 18/01/2007

Before :

MR JUSTICE DAVID STEEL

Sitting with Captain Iain Gibb

Elder Brother of Trinity House

As Nautical Assessor

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Between :

| |The Owners and/or Demise Chartereres of the tug "Sea Tractor", her Master, |Claimants |

| |Officers and Crew | |

| |- and - | |

| |The Owners of the Ship “Tramp” |Defendants |

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Stewart Buckingham (instructed by Ince & Co) for the Claimants

Jeremy Russell QC (instructed by Winter Scott) for the Defendants

Hearing date: 8 December 2006

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Judgment

Mr Justice David Steel :

  1. The Claimants are the owners of the tug SEA TRACTOR, her Master, Officers and Crew. The Defendants are the owners of the vessel TRAMP. The Claimants seek to recover salvage remuneration in respect of services rendered on 21 March 2006. The Defendants contend that the services were merely towage services to be remunerated in accordance with the Claimants’ usual tariff in the sum of £625.

  2. Salvage claims in this court are rare. This is a tribute to the efficiency of the Lloyds Salvage Arbitration system. However, where as here, there is a dispute as to whether the services constituted salvage services, it is necessary for that issue to be determined either by this court or, more usually, by an ad hoc submission to arbitration.

  3. When these proceedings initially came before me I expressed concern that the legal costs were at risk of being out of all proportion to the claim, even if it proved appropriate to determine it on a salvage basis. In order to limit those costs, I ordered that the trial be conducted on the basis that it should be accomplished within a morning – the parties being limited to ½ an hour’s cross-examination of the respective masters and 45 minutes by way of submissions. I believe the parties viewed this as a fair balance between the need for thorough consideration of the issues and the need for limitation of expense. In any event the hearing has been duly conducted within the time limits imposed.

  4. SEA TRACTOR is a small motor workboat/tug of 340 hp. She was built in 1980. She is some 15 metres in length with a maximum draft of about 1.5 metres. She is equipped with twin propellers. She was of ideal size and power for towage operations on the River Swale where she is based. Her replacement cost was in the region of £150,000.

  5. TRAMP is a small coaster of 1,181 tons gross with a single hold. She was built in 1978. She is some 68 metres in length and 11.6 metres in beam. At the relevant time she was in ballast and drawing about 1.8 metres forward and 2.7 metres aft. She is equipped with diesel engines of 1800 hp driving a single propeller. Her value was not agreed. It is not necessary to say more than that she was probably worth in the region of £400,000.

  6. The services took place in the River Swale. This river runs between the Isle of Sheppey and mainland...

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