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ST SHIPPING AND TRANSPORT PTE LTD V SPACE SHIPPING LTD (THE "CV STEALTH")

Lloyd's Law Reporter

ST SHIPPING AND TRANSPORT PTE LTD V SPACE SHIPPING LTD (THE "CV STEALTH")

[2017] EWHC 2808 (Comm), Queen's Bench Division, Commercial Court, Mr Justice Popplewell, 10 November 2017

Charterparty (time) - Vessel detained in connection with criminal investigation - Courts failing to release vessel upon completion of investigation - Test of causation - Whether employment order an effective cause of detention - Deduction of drydocking expenses - Owners not incurring drydocking expenses while vessel detained - Case management decision not subject to permission to appeal

This was the appeal by both charterers and disponent owners of the fourth partial final award in the arbitration. The factual background was that the vessel CV Stealth had been detained in port in Venezuela in connection with a criminal investigation. There was no suggestion that the parties had any involvement in the criminal activities, but the vessel remained detained in spite of completion of criminal proceedings and the hearing of several applications for her release. The charterers' appeal was based on the argument that, if the initial cause of detention was the employment orders, the arbitrator had nevertheless failed to ask himself the correct question of law when it came to determining causation of the continued detention of the vessel. Did the employment order continue to be an effective cause of the detention of the vessel? According to charterers, the sole effective cause of detention instead eventually became the intractable and perverse refusal of the Venezuelan courts to order the release of the vessel as required by Venezuelan law. The arbitrator, they said, had erred in asking only whether anything had changed. The appeal of the disponent owners challenged the deduction of saved drydocking expenses from the amount owed by charterers.

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