My company shipped steel bars from Port Klang to Kota Kinabalu. The steel bars were discovered damage upon discharge in Kota Kinabalu. Who can we claim against? Can we arrest the shipowner’s vessel?

Yes. The Admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court includes “(g) any claim for loss of or damage to goods carried in a ship” and “(h) any claim arising out of any agreement relating to the carriage of goods in a ship or to the use or hire of a ship. In another words, you may invoke the “Admiralty” or “In Rem” jurisdiction of the High Court for cargo damage.

However, it must be mindful that a claim under Section 20(2)(g) and (h) of the UK Seniors Courts Act 1981 (“SCA 1981“) must satisfy two (2) requirements in s. 21 of the SCA 1981 as follows:

a.)The claim arises in connection with a ship; and
b.)The person who is liable is either owner, charterer or in possession or in control of the ship.

In another words, if the person who would be personally liable to the plaintiff’s cargo damage is someone other than “the owner, charterer or in possession or in control of the ship“, Admiralty in Rem action cannot be maintained on that ship.

It is also important to note that a claim under sub-section (g) and (h) above may be brought against either the offending ship or the sister ship(s).

 Once the aforesaid criteria are met, a writ in rem may be taken out against the ship. Before a writ in rem is issued, cargo owners might also want to take note of the following matters and perform the following steps.

If you need more information on our legal updates, our Knowledge and Law News Division by clicking here , we would be  pleased to assist.