Commercial

The Rama, the charterers claimed for damages on the grounds that the owners knew, when they entered into the charter, that they were not in a financial position to complete the charter. The High Court held that none of the losses suffered by the charterers was done or caused by the vessel Rama as a physical object. Thus, the Admiralty jurisdiction under s 20 (s. 20 (2) (e)) did not arise. Although the court may well have had jurisdiction to hear the  claim under other provisions of the Supreme Court Act, there was no Admiralty jurisdiction in personam or, more importantly here, in rem. In The Hamburg Star (1994) it was held that claims for indemnity and contribution under the Civil Liability (Contributions) Act 1978 were claims that gave rise to Admiralty jurisdiction arising out of an agreement for the carriage of containers and their contents. Both in personam and in rem actions are governed by RSC Order 75 (Rules of the Supreme Court) and many of the Commercial Court Practice Rules. This is the procedure by which one party issues and serves a writ in personam, i.e. upon the party whom he wishes to sue. This procedure leads to difficulties when the defendant is not actually within the jurisdiction. There are limiting rules governing the service of a writ outside the jurisdiction and in many cases this may not even be practical or possible. (Service outside the jurisdiction is dealt with in Section 4 of this Lesson). Additionally, even if the writ is served on a person in another country it may, in reality, be impossible to compel response or appearance in court. There are restrictions placed on the High Court’s jurisdiction to entertain actions in personam in collision and other similar cases. These restrictions are set out under s 22 and apply to the Court’s overall and not just its Admiralty jurisdiction: s.22 (3). The Court shall not entertain any action in personam in respect of collision (Set out in s 22 (1)) unless the provisions of s. 22 (2) are satisfied.