Singapore High Court allows extension of time in collision case despite multiple opportunities to arrest.
Following a collision between ORINOCO STAR and MELODY in Nigerian waters on 20 June 2011 and subsequent unsuccessful settlement negotiations between the parties, owners of the vessel MELODY issued a writ and proceeded to arrest ORINOCO STAR on 6 December 2013.
On 20 February 2014, the plaintiffs applied for an extension of the two-year limitation period, pursuant to section 8(3) of the Maritime Conventions Act 1911 on the grounds that there had been no reasonable opportunity to arrest the vessel in any relevant jurisdiction during the two-year period.
The extension was sought up to the date of arrest in December 2013. The defendants ultimately accepted that there was no opportunity to arrest the vessel in a relevant jurisdiction before June 2013. However, they argued that time should only be extended up to the earliest date at which the plaintiffs could have arrested the vessel, i.e. when it called at Singapore for approximately 16 hours on 9-10 September 2013. The vessel also made 2 further port calls prior to being arrested on the 6th December.
The Court granted the extension to the plaintiffs, finding that they did not have a reasonable opportunity to arrest the vessel during the call on 9-10 September 2013, as the vessel arrived at 1859 and sailed the following morning at 1100. The Court further found that while the plaintiffs had ample opportunity to arrest the vessel during her subsequent calls, the parties had agreed to an extension of the limitation period.
It is also worth noting that the Singapore Court disregarded the fact that the vessel had called extensively in Nigeria (where the collision occurred), reaffirming the "right of litigants to determine which jurisdiction they wish to pursue their claims in".
The full judgment can be found by following the link below: