Admiralty registrar refuses to unpick contractual incidents of bunker suppliers’ in rem claims.

In TRANS-TEC INTERNATIONAL SRL AND ANOTHER V OWNERS AND/OR DEMISE CHARTERERS OF THE VESSEL “COLUMBUS” [2020] EWHC 3443 (Admlty), Admiralty Registrar Mr Davison, on 17 December 2020, considered the meaning of “claim in respect of goods or materials supplied to a ship for her operation or maintenance” under the Senior Courts Act 1981, section 20(2)(m)

Various bunker suppliers claimed in rem against two vessels and also claimed additional sums sought for contractual interest, administrative fees and costs indemnity. The vessels had been sold and the actions were against the sale proceeds with a claim for default judgments. Other in rem claimants disputed the additional sums claimed and argued that these could only be brought in personam.

The additional sums were held to be recoverable under s.20 (m). The fees and interest were incidents of the contract and although the collection costs were further removed they too formed part of the contractual bargain.

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