The 'Mezen'

Home ] Up ]

The "Mezen"
Singapore High Court: Daphne Hong Fan Sin AR: [2006] SGHC 35: 23 February 2006

Ari Goh & Partners for Plaintiff
Kelvin Chia Partnership for Defendants
Invocation of ADMIRALTY JURISDICTION: Whether equipment onboard a ship within scope of "goods carried in a ship"
In this case the Admiralty Registrar of Singapore determined that the phrase "goods carried in a ship" within the terms of s.3(1)(g) of the Singapore High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act referred to goods carried as cargo in a ship from one place to another and did not include equipment that had been put aboard the vessel for the purpose of carrying out some specialist activity

DMC Category Rating: Confirmed

This case note has been contributed by Ang & Partners, the International Contributors to the website for Singapore

The "Mezen" was originally under arrest by Charterers for a claim for breach of charterparty. The Charterers had chartered her for subsea seismic survey work and had put equipment on board her for that purpose. They then sold the seismic equipment to the Plaintiffs, who in turn obtained leave from the Court to off-load the equipment, albeit on certain terms. In fact, the equipment onboard was not completely off-loaded.

In the meantime, the Defendants successfully set aside the Charterers’ earlier warrant of arrest. The Plaintiffs then applied for, and obtained, the present warrant of arrest against the vessel.

The Defendants challenged the Plaintiffs’ action and applied to set aside the warrant of arrest on the basis, amongst others, that the admiralty jurisdiction of the court was wrongly invoked as the claim did not fall within the ambit of s.3(1)g) of the Singapore High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act, which reads as follows:-

"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:

(g) any claim for loss of or damage to goods carried in a ship"

The Court found that the words "goods carried in a ship" could not have such a wide meaning so as to include "whatever [is] conveyed in a ship" or "the load carried in a ship" as the Plaintiffs had submitted. This was because s.2 of the Act defined "goods" to extend to "baggage" and such an extension would not be necessary if the Plaintiffs’ submission was correct. There was also persuasive English authority in the case of The Eschersheim [1974] 3 All ER 307 to the effect that similar words in section (1)(g) of the UK’s Administration of Justice Act 1956 referred only to "goods carried as cargo" in the ship. The judge held this case to have been correctly decided.

The Court thus held that since the vessel was not carrying the seismic equipment as cargo for the purpose of conveying or transporting it from one place to another, the equipment was not within the ambit of "goods carried in a ship". The arrest was therefore set aside.

This case is clear authority for the proposition that the phrase "goods carried in a ship" does not include equipment fitted onboard a vessel to enable it to carry out its work. Thus its arrest in relation to a claim in regard to such equipment will not be allowed.

Back to Top


These Case Notes have been prepared with care, but neither the Editor nor the International and other Contributors can guarantee that they are free from error, nor that they contain every pertinent point. Reliance should not therefore be placed upon them without independent verification. The Editor and the International and other Contributors disclaim all liability for any loss of whatsoever nature and howsoever arising as a result of others acting or refraining from acting in reliance on the contents of this website and the information to which it gives access. The Editor claims copyright in the content of the website.