The Alexandrea

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeBelinda Ang Saw Ean JC
Judgment Date23 April 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] SGHC 82
Citation[2002] SGHC 82
Subject MatterWhether court has admiralty jurisdiction,Admiralty jurisdiction and arrest,Conditions which claimant has to satisfy before action in rem can be brought against vessel,ss 3(1)(l) & 4(4) High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (Cap 123, 2001 Ed),Words and Phrases,Arrest of vessel,Whether plaintiffs' claim falls within scope of High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (Cap 123, 2001 Ed),Admiralty and Shipping,'In respect of','A ship',Action in rem
Defendant CounselLD Dason (Steven Lee, Dason & Partners)
Docket NumberAdmiralty in Rem No 600090 of 2002
Plaintiff CounselSin Lye Kuen and Candice Kwok (Khattar Wong & Partners)
Published date19 September 2003
Date23 April 2002



1. This was an appeal by the Defendants against the decision of the Assistant Registrar dismissing the Defendants’ application to set aside the arrest of "ALEXANDREA". At the conclusion of the hearing, Defendants’ Counsel orally applied to set aside the Writ of Summons as well. I granted leave to the Defendants to amend their application and Notice of Appeal.

2. The Plaintiffs, Sumitomo Corporation (Singapore) Pte Ltd, were a party in the chain of contracts for the supply of marine fuel oil ("MFO"). The Plaintiffs’ immediate buyer was Sumitomo Corporation Europe PLC ("SCEP"). Pursuant to a contract made between the Plaintiffs and Meridian Petroleum and Bunkering Pte Ltd ("Meridian"), on 21 September 2001 Meridian purportedly supplied MFO to "FRONT MELODY" at Singapore.

3. The Plaintiffs alleged that the MFO stemmed from the "ALEXANDREA", a bunker tanker owned by J S Pink Pte Ltd, was contaminated in that it contained Di-methyl Ester of Hexabedioic acid, a chemical compound used in paint strippers. The "FRONT MELODY" suffered loss or damage as a result of using the contaminated bunkers which affected the performance of the ship’s machinery. Owners of "FRONT MELODY" gave notice of their loss or damage to SCEP who in turn is holding the Plaintiffs answerable.

4. On 22 March 2002, the Plaintiffs commenced an in rem action against the "ALEXANDREA" in negligence, alleging a failure on the part of the Defendants to ensure that MFO stemming from "ALEXANDREA" was free of contaminants. In the event of liability to SCEP, they in addition, sought an order to be indemnified against any adverse financial consequences they might suffer as a result of the "FRONT MELODY" using contaminated marine fuel.

5. The "ALEXANDREA" was arrested on 22 March 2002.

The Relevant Statutory Provisions

6. The High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (Cap 123) ("the Act") provides:

"3. (1) The admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court shall be as follows, that is to say, jurisdiction to hear and determine any of the following questions or claims:

(l) any claim in respect of goods or materials supplied to a ship for her operation or maintenance;

4. (4) In the case of any such claim as mentioned in section 3(1)(d) to (q), being a claim arising in connection with a ship, where the person who would be liable on the claim in an action in personam was, when the cause of the action arose, the owner or charterer of, or in possession or in control of, the ship, the admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court may (whether the claim gives rise to a maritime lien on the ship or not) be involved by an action in rem against-

(a) that ship, if at the time when the action is brought it is beneficially owned as respects all the shares therein by that person; or

(b) any other ship which, at the time when the action is brought, is beneficially owned as aforesaid."

The Defendants’ application and appeal - basis and opposition

7. The Defendants’ application for the warrant of arrest to be set aside and for damages for wrongful arrest was filed on 26 March 2002. Having failed before the Assistant Registrar, the Defendants’ filed Notice to Appeal on 1 April 2002.

8. The Defendants challenged the validity of the arrest of "ALXANDREA" on two grounds. The first is that the admiralty jurisdiction under s. 4(4) of Act had been improperly invoked. Secondly, that there was material non-disclosure in the Plaintiffs’ affidavit leading the warrant of arrest. There was no mention there that the Plaintiffs’ contract to supply MFO to the "FRONT MELODY" was with Meridian and not with the Defendants.

9. Before me, Counsel for the Defendants, Mr. Dason, proceeded on the basis of a concession that the Plaintiffs’ claim framed in negligence fell within the scope of s 3(1)(l) of the Act.

10. For the reasons explained below, Counsel’s concession is misplaced. I accordingly rejected it. Selvam J in The "Ohm Marina" [1992] 2 SLR 623 at 630 stated:

"The admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court of Singapore is essentially statutory, namely the jurisdiction conferred on the High Court by the High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (cap 123) ("the Act"). The Act lays down the conditions, which must be satisfied before a claimant avails himself of the right to institute in rem proceedings against a ship and the powerful right to effect an arrest of the ship. As the in rem jurisdiction is created and limited by statute, the parties cannot confer such jurisdiction by agreement or waiver."

11. That is also the case, when a concession has been wrongly given. The court would clearly be acting without jurisdiction if the Plaintiffs’ claim did not satisfy the basic condition for jurisdiction.

12. Plaintiffs’ Counsel, Mr. Sin, contended that the Plaintiffs’ claim fell squarely within s 3(1)(l) of the Act. It was common ground that the bunkers were supplied to the "FRONT MELODY" for her operation or maintenance. It was also common ground that the beneficial owners of "ALEXANDREA", both when the cause of action arose and at the date of the issue of the Writ of Summons was J S Pink Fuel Pte Ltd.

13. On that basis, he submitted that the Plaintiffs had established jurisdiction in rem and were entitled to arrest the "ALEXANDREA".

14. Mr Sin essentially rested the Plaintiffs’...

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12 cases
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  • The ‘Bunga Melati 5’
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
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    ...S Mohan and Adrian Aw (Gurbani & Co) for the defendant. AA V, The [1999] 3 SLR (R) 664; [2001] 1 SLR 207 (not folld) Alexandrea, The [2002] 1 SLR (R) 812; [2002] 3 SLR 56 (refd) Andres Bonifacio, The [1991] 1 SLR (R) 523; [1991] SLR 694 (refd) Andres Bonifacio, The [1993] 3 SLR (R) 71; [199......
  • The ‘Eagle Prestige’
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 23 Marzo 2010
    ...Tan and Magdalene Chew (AsiaLegal LLC) for the intervener. AA V, The [1999] 3 SLR (R) 664; [2001] 1 SLR 207 (refd) Alexandrea, The [2002] 1 SLR (R) 812; [2002] 3 SLR 56 (refd) Andres Bonifacio, The [1991] 1 SLR (R) 523; [1991] SLR 694,HC (refd) Andres Bonifacio, The [1993] 3 SLR (R) 71; [19......
  • The “Catur Samudra”
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 15 Enero 2010
    ...& Co) for the defendant Koh See Bin (Rajah & Tann LLP) for the caveator. Aifanourios, The (1980) SC 346 (refd) Alexandrea, The [2002] 1 SLR (R) 812; [2002] 3 SLR 56 (refd) Andres Bonifacio, The [1991] 1 SLR (R) 523; [1991] SLR 694 (refd) Antonis P Lemos, The [1985] AC 711 (refd) Aventicum, ......
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2 books & journal articles
  • Admiralty, Shipping and Aviation Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2010, December 2010
    • 1 Diciembre 2010
    ...of probabilities: The Eagle Prestige at [49]. Drawing support from cases such as The Catur Samudra [2010] 2 SLR 518, The Alexandrea [2002] 1 SLR(R) 812 and The Andres Bonifacio [1991] 1 SLR(R) 523, her Honour concluded (The Eagle Prestige at [49]) that: It is clear that where jurisdiction i......
  • Admiralty and Shipping Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2002, December 2002
    • 1 Diciembre 2002
    ...had to assume responsibility for the crew”s post-arrest wages. Subject matter of admiralty jurisdiction 2.22 The facts of The Alexandrea[2002] 3 SLR 56 are, briefly, as follows. The plaintiffs were a party in a chain of contracts for the supply of marine fuel oil (“MFO”) to a ship, the Fron......

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