Avro International (Owners) v Arabian Marine Bunkers Sales Co Ltd and Another

CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
JudgeChua F A J
Judgment Date18 November 1987
Neutral Citation[1987] SGCA 20
Citation[1987] SGCA 20
Defendant CounselSteven Chong (Drew & Napier)
Plaintiff CounselLionel Liew and Said Ahmad Chishty (Emmanuel & Barker)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCivil Appeals Nos 35 and 36 of 1986
Date18 November 1987
Subject MatterAdmiralty jurisdiction and arrest,s 4(4) High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (Cap 123),Action in rem,Striking out,Admiralty and Shipping,Whether unconditional appearances fatal to appellants' claims,Whether proceedings instituted by respondents properly within admiralty jurisdiction of court

Cur Adv Vult

In these two appeals, which were by agreement heard together, the question raised was whether the appellants, as defendants in the High Court and owners of `Avro International and `Avro Venture`, could obtain orders striking out the admiralty in rem actions instituted by the respondents, as plaintiffs, on the ground that the two ships were, at the times the bunkers were supplied by both respondents, bare-boat chartered to Avro International Ltd who, and not the appellants, were therefore the party `who would be liable on the claim in an action in personam` within the meaning of that expression in s 4(4) of the High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (Cap 123) (the Act). The appellants` applications to strike out the actions were dismissed by the deputy registrar. Their respective appeals to the High Court were also dismissed because the appellants, having entered unconditional appearances, could not at the threshold stage of the proceedings strike out the actions for want of jurisdiction. The High Court relied on The Bilbao (1860) 167 ER 72 to which we shall revert. At the adjourned hearing of the appeals in the High Court, the appellants applied for leave to withdraw the unconditional appearances which they had entered. Their applications failed. The appellants brought these appeals before us and at the conclusion of the hearing, we dismissed both appeals with costs.

We now set out the circumstances and our reasons for dismissing both appeals.
Between November 1983 and January 1984, both respondents supplied bunkers to the ships `Avro International` and `Avro Venture`. In May 1984, the respondents instituted in the High Court admiralty in rem actions against the owners of both vessels for recovering the price of the bunkers. On the face of them, the claims fell within para (1) of s 3(1) of the Act. In the following month, both ships were arrested but the ships were promptly released upon the appellants furnishing bank guarantees in terms and amounts accepted by the respondents. In June 1984, both the appellants entered unconditional appearances. Under O 70 r 2 of the Rules of Supreme Court (the RSC), it was provided that the appearance procedure for admiralty cases was the same as in the ordinary cases under O 12 of the RSC. More than five months later, they filed interlocutory applications for orders to strike out and dismiss the respondents` claims and for the return of the bank guarantees duly cancelled by the respondents. As stated earlier, they failed before the Deputy Registrar and the High Court.

The appellants alleged, as deposed to in affidavits and documents filed on their behalf, that Avro Shipping Ltd of 80 Broad Street, Monrovia, Liberia had on 23 May 1983 bare-boat chartered the two vessels and as such bare-boat charterers they had through their agents ordered the bunkers from the respondents.
Not being the buyers of the bunkers the appellants therefore submitted that they were not liable in personam to pay the price for the same. The appellants further alleged that under the terms of the charter-party, Avro Shipping Ltd were granted an option to purchase the vessels at the end of the two-year term or after one year on payment of the balance of the hire. They further claimed that on 9 March 1984 the bare-boat charterers repudiated the charter-party and that as the repudiation of the charter-party was accepted by the appellants, the vessels remained in the beneficial ownership of the appellants, with the ownership thereof at no time passing to Avro Shipping Ltd.

Turning to the information published in the Lloyd`s Register, the appellants alleged that on 23 May 1983 Lloyd`s Register showed that the appellants were the owners of the vessels and that apart from a letter dated 20 October 1983 advising Lloyd`s Register a change in the managers of the ships they claimed that neither they nor their agents had informed Lloyd`s Register that ownership of the two ships had passed to Avro Shipping Ltd.
As for the information appearing in the Lloyd`s Register between November 1983 and February 1984 which stated that Avro Shipping Ltd were the owners of the two ships, the appellants claimed that they were unaware of the changes and that they were not in any way responsible for the erroneous entries. The appellants mentioned the fact, as it was, that Lloyd`s Register depended on a number of sources for...

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2 cases
  • The ‘Bunga Melati 5’
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 23 August 2011
    ...Rep 266 (refd) Aventicum, The [1978] 1 Lloyd's Rep 184 (refd) ‘Avro International’ (Owners) v Arabian Marine Bunkers Sales Co Ltd [1987] SLR (R) 610; [1987] SLR 176 (refd) Baltic Shipping Co Ltd v Pegasus Lines SA [1996] 3 NZLR 641 (refd) Bradley Lomas Electrolok Ltd v Colt Ventilation East......
  • The "Bunga Melati 5"
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 23 August 2011
    ...the defendants”. The Court of Appeal’s decision in “Avro International” (Owners) v Arabian Marine Bunkers Sales Co Ltd and another [1987] SLR(R) 610 (“Avro International”) also provided some assistance, albeit only in terms of obiter dicta as the Court of Appeal was concerned with a differe......

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