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  • Clipper Holdings B.V. v. M-V GTS Horizon
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  • 2004-07-19
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Clipper Holdings B.V. v. M-V GTS Horizon

CLIPPER HOLDINGS (THE NETHERLANDS)

B.V ( Time Charter Owners of the M/V Ken Koku )

V

M/V GTS HORIZON

OWNERS OF THE M/V GTS HORIZON

COURT OF APPEAL

( LAGOS DIVISION )

SULEIMAN GALADIMA, JCA ( Presided )

PIUS OLAYIWOLA ADEREMI, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

ABUBAKAR ABDUL - KADIR JEGA, JCA

CA/L/93/2002

WEDNESDAY, 28TH JANUARY, 2004

ADMIRALTY - Federal High Court - Exclusive jurisdiction of on admiralty matters

COURT - Federal High Court - Exclusive jurisdiction of on admiralty matters

COURT - Trial court - Impropriety of reliance on other processes outside the statement of claim

JURISDICTION - Federal High Court - Exclusive jurisdiction of on admiralty matters

JURISDICTION - Issue of - Importance of

JURISDICTION - Issue of - What to consider when determining

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE -Trial court - Impropriety of reliance on other processes outside the statement of claim


Issue:

Whether on terms contained in the pleadings and the affidavits before the court, it should have come to the decision reached, dismissing the plaintiff’s claim.

Facts:

In the Federal High Court holden in Lagos, the plaintiff (hereinafter referred to as the appellant) had claimed against the second defendant (hereinafter referred to as the second respondent) owners of the first defendant (hereinafter referred to as the first respondent) the sum of USD 84 , 127.78 (eighty-four thousand, one hundred and twenty-seven dollars, seventy-eight cents) being payments due in September 1999 as demurrage to the plaintiff/appellant from the second defendant/respondent owners of the 1st defendant/respondent presently lying in Nigerian territorial waters resulting from the charter by the second defendant/respondent of the vessel “M/V Ken Koku” then owned and/or on a time charter to the plaintiff/ appellant.

Both parties had filed and exchanged pleadings. Sequel to the settlement of pleadings the defendants/respondents brought an application dated and filed on 17/3/2000 seeking the following reliefs:

(1)          an order dismissing and/or striking out the suit.

(2)          an order setting aside and/or discharging the letter of undertaking issued by the defendants as security for the plaintiff’s claim.

The grounds upon which the application was founded are:-

(1)          That the admiralty jurisdiction of this Honourable Court cannot be invoked in this action in rem against the 1st defendant as the 2nd defendant is not the relevant person who would be liable in an action in personam for the plaintiff’s claim pursuant to section 5 (4) of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Decree of 1991.

(2)          That the plaintiff has not complied with the provision of section 5(4)  of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Decree 1991 as the 1st defendant (the M.V. “GTS Horizon”) is not the ship in connection with which the claim, the subject of this action arose neither is she a sister to that ship”.

Arguments on the application were taken by the trial Judge and in a reserved ruling delivered on the 9th of July 2001, the prayers of the defendant/respondent were upheld and the action was accordingly dismissed. It is that ruling that has led to this appeal.