DMC Category Rating: Confirmed
This note has been contributed by Chan Leng Sun of Ang & Partners, Singapore. Ang & Partners are the International Contributors to this website for Singapore
The Plaintiffs commenced action against the Defendant shipowners in Singapore in 2005 for their loss under the Bill of Lading, but only managed to serve the writ and arrest the vessel in November 2007. The Vessel was released on the provision of security.
The shipowners applied to stay the Singapore action in favour of London arbitration, on the basis that the reverse of the Bill of Lading incorporated "all terms and conditions, liberties and exceptions of the Charter Party, dated as overleaf, including the Law and Arbitration Clause." There was no identification of the charterparty on the front of the Bill of Lading. The Plaintiffs were only told by the shipowners that there was a London arbitration clause in the relevant sub-charterparty after the one-year time limit for claims under the applicable Hague-Visby Rules had expired; even then, they were initially wrongly informed which sub-charterparty applied, as there was a string of charterparties.
At first instance, the Assistant Registrar granted a stay of court proceedings in favour of arbitration in London on two conditions namely:
The Defendant shipowners appealed to the Judge-in-Chambers.
1. The court has an unfettered discretion to impose terms and conditions upon a stay of court proceedings for arbitration. Section 6(2) of the Singapore International Arbitration Act states that when an application is made by a party in accordance with s.6(1), the court must order a stay of court proceedings unless the arbitration agreement is "null and void, inoperative or incapable of being performed" but may impose "such terms or conditions as it may think fit".
2. The justice of the case demanded the imposition of the condition that the Defendants waive the defence of time bar in the English arbitration proceedings especially in light of:
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