French courts did not consider the consequences of the OW Bunker collapse from the angle of substantive law, i.e. the contract of sale/supply of the bunkers. However, French courts did consider the issue from the angle of ship arrest by the actual bunker suppliers for the purpose of obtaining security.

In the latest decision dated 15 September 2015, the Court of Appeal of Pau refused the right of the physical bunker supplier to arrest the vessel on the basis that the claim of the bunker supplier could not succeed against a party (in this case, the shipowner) who was not the supplier’s direct debtor under the contract of supply (here, OW Bunker).

This might suggest that shipowners might benefit from a higher degree of protection of their interests in France but it is still too early to be affirmative on the issue.

Although lower courts have previously allowed a physical bunker supplier to arrest a ship, there is an insufficient number of precedents to be able to confirm that a particular view on ship arrests has crystallised in any one area.