The "Pangkalan Susu/Permina 3001"

CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
JudgeChua F A J
Judgment Date25 July 1977
Neutral Citation[1977] SGCA 5
Citation[1977] SGCA 5
Defendant CounselS Rajkumar (Donaldson & Burkinshaw),Richard Stone QC and S Selvadurai (Selvadurai & Emmanuel)
Plaintiff CounselMichael Thomas QC and C Arul (Rodyk & Davidson)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 48 of 1976
Date25 July 1977
Subject MatterMeaning and scope of 'beneficially owned',Claim for arrears of charter hire,Action in rem,Constructive trust,Conditional sale of vessel agreed between first and second respondents,Whether first respondents were beneficial owners of vessel,Personal Property,Beneficial,s 4(4) High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (Cap 6, 1970 Ed),Ownership,Admiralty jurisdiction and arrest,Arrest of ship,Equitable interest in property,First respondents paid five out of 72 equal monthly instalments,Whether second respondents held vessel on trust for first respondent,Charter of vessel to first respondents,Admiralty and Shipping

Cur Adv Vult

Rasu Maritima SA the plaintiffs/appellants, chartered the ship Bruce Ruthi II to Pertamina who fell into arrears amounting to US$3,929,090.24 for charter hire. They caused to be issued a writ in rem against the ship Pangkalan Susu otherwise known as Permina 3001, which ship was arrested on 20 September 1976 pursuant to a warrant of arrest.

Pertamina, the first respondent, and Ozark Shipping Co SA, the second respondent, entered conditional appearances and subsequently separately moved the High Court to set aside the writ and all subsequent proceedings for want of jurisdiction.
Indus Shipping Co owns the ship Bruce Ruthi II, the appellants are the disponent owners and Pertamina are the charterers under a time charterparty. The ship Permina 3001, at the date when the writ was issued, was owned by Ozark Shipping Co SA but was under the full control and possession of Pertamina under a `Purchase Contract` made on 9 May 1974 between Greenock Shipping Corp and Pertamina, the benefit of which had been assigned by Greenock Shipping Corp to Ozark Shipping Co SA on 1 November 1975.

Pertamina`s motion was heard before AP Rajah J.
They contended that the court`s admiralty jurisdiction cannot be invoked by an action in rem against the ship Permina 3001 because, on the true construction of s 4(4) of the High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act (Cap 6, 1970 Ed), the Permina 3001 must have (and does not have) the same beneficial ownership as the Bruce Ruthi II. This contention failed because this court in the case of The Permina 108 [1977] 1 MLJ 49 rejected it.

Alternatively, Pertamina contended that on the true construction of s 4(4) the Permina 3001 is not `beneficially owned as respects all the shares therein` by Pertamina.
Section 4(4) of the High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act provides as follows:

In the case of any such claim as is mentioned in paras (d) to (q) of sub-s (1) of s 3 of this Act, 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 court may (whether the claim gives rise to a maritime lien on the ship or not) be invoked 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.



Pertamina contended that the words `beneficially owned as respects all the shares therein` are not wide enough to include the interest of a person who, although not being the registered or legal or equitable owner of the ship arrested, was in full possession and control of the ship.
They contended that the words are restricted to a person in whom the legal and equitable title is vested or in whom the equitable title is vested, the legal title being vested in another person. They relied on the decision of Hewson J in The St Merriel [1963] P 247.

Rasu Maritima SA contended that the words are wide enough to include the interest of a person who has only full control and possession of the ship arrested and relied on the decision of Brandon J in The Andrea Ursula [1973] 1 QB 265.


Rajah J declined to follow the decision of Brandon J and held that at the date when the action was brought the `Permina 3001` was not `beneficially owned as respects all the shares therein` by Pertamina within the meaning of s 4(4) of our Act.
Accordingly, he set aside the writ and all subsequent proceedings therein.

Rasu Maritima SA now appeals and Mr Thomas, on their behalf, urges us to say that the construction placed on the words `beneficially owned as respects all the shares therein` in s 4(4) by Brandon J is the correct one notwithstanding a later decision of Goff J in the as yet unreported case of the I Congreso del Partido

in which Goff J declined to follow Brandon J and held that these words `refer only to cases of equitable ownership, whether or not accompanied by legal ownership, and are not wide enough to include cases of
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11 cases
1 books & journal articles
  • Admiralty, Shipping and Aviation Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2010, December 2010
    • 1 December 2010
    ...beneficial owner is the person who ‘has the right to sell, dispose of or alienate all the shares in that ship’: The Pangkalan Susu [1977-1978] SLR(R) 105; (b) that the court may trace the history of ownership of the vessel from the time of its construction to ascertain who the beneficial ow......

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