Uni-Navigation Pte Ltd v Wei Loong Shipping Pte Ltd

JurisdictionSingapore
JudgeG P Selvam JC
Judgment Date28 November 1992
Neutral Citation[1992] SGHC 293
Docket NumberAdmiralty in Personam No 489 of 1992
Date28 November 1992
Published date19 September 2003
Year1992
Plaintiff CounselAugustine Liew (Haridass Ho & Partners)
Citation[1992] SGHC 293
Defendant CounselBeh Eng Siew (YM Jumabhoy & Co)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterArbitration,Defendants' right to stay of proceedings,Admiralty action in personam instituted in High Court,Stay of court proceedings,Whether claim came within ambit of arbitration clause,Inherent jurisdiction,Court's discretion,Right to stay of proceedings,Stay of proceedings,s 7 Arbitration Act (Cap 10),Claim for freight,Civil Procedure,Disputes in charterparty to be referred to arbitration,Proceedings instituted in High Court,Arbitration clause,High Court's jurisdiction to prevent abuse of process of court,Whether court had jurisdiction to decide claim,Amount in dispute within jurisdiction of subordinate courts
Introduction

This was an appeal against an order made by Assistant Registrar Mr Christopher Tang staying the proceedings on the ground that the subject matter of the action was to be determined by arbitration.

The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiffs were the owners of the Singapore registered ship Allissa. By a charterparty in the Gencon form they chartered the ship to the defendants to load a cargo of about 14,000 metric tons of bagged cement at Padang, Indonesia for carriage to and discharge at two named Bangladesh ports. The freight payable was at US$14.25 per ton. Freight was deemed earned as cargo was on board, discountless and non-returnable. The plaintiffs claimed that the ship carried a total cargo of 15,400 tons and earned freight in the sum of US$219,450.

Clause 8 on the payment of freight read as follows:
Ninety-five percent (95%) freight paid within three (3) banking days after completion of loading upon signing/releasing first set bill of lading marked `freight collect` at loadport and second set freight prepaid bill of lading at Singapore against charterers` letter of indemnity and confirmation of freight remittance.



The charterparty was silent on when the remaining 5% freight (US$10,972.50) was payable.


The defendants conceded that on the quantity of 15,400mt of cargo the freight earned was US$219,450 and that the ship had earned US$27,449.92 as demurrage at loading port.
These two amounts totalled US$246,899.92.

The defendants paid US$178,891.25 being 95% of US$219.450.
But they also cross-claimed amounts in respect of additional premium, address commission, discharge, port disbursements and despatch earned at discharge ports. These amounted to $85,459.93. In addition the defendants made claims for lightening expenses and short landing of cargo. The total of these additional claims was US$43,082.08.

Thus there were owners` claims for balance of freight and demurrage and charterers` cross-claims.
The charterparty contained an arbitration clause:

Should any dispute arise between owners and charterers, the matter shall be referred to three (3) persons in Singapore, one to be appointed by each of the parties hereto and the third by the two so chosen. Their decision or that of any two of them shall be final and for the purpose of endorsing any award this agreement may be made a rule of court. The arbitrators shall be commercial men and English law to apply.



In compliance with the arbitration clause arbitrators were appointed in March 1992.
The first meeting of the arbitrators was held on 24 March 1992.

Without proceeding with the arbitration the solicitors for the plaintiffs on 4 June 1992 wrote to the defendants` solicitors as follows:

The fixture has now been concluded and there remains the demurrage/despatch and balance freight to be paid.



From our clients` statement of account dated 5 May 1992, there is a sum of US$87,010.22 out of which US$10,972.50 comprises the balance freight of 5%.
As it is well-settled law that freight is to be settled without set-off or counterclaim, we hereby demand on our clients` behalf that the same be settled by 6 June 1992.

If your clients fail to do so, our clients will take the appropriate steps to recover the same from them.


To that demand and threat the defendants` solicitors on 9 June 1992 responded by setting out the defendants` cross-claims and demanded US$17,533.34 as the amount due from the plaintiffs after set-off.


On 11 July 1992 the plaintiffs made good their threat by filing an admiralty action in personam in the High Court claiming US$10,972.50 as `balance of freight that was due and owing`.
The defendants applied for all proceedings in the action to be stayed pursuant to s 7 of the ...

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4 books & journal articles
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2014, December 2014
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