In South African proceedings, owners of the “MV PRIVGULF” have sought an order joining Sinopec (represented locally by Clyde & Co Cape Town, and, instructed by Clyde & Co Shanghai) as a third party in an action in rem commenced by ING Bank N.V. against the “MV PRIVGULF”. The joinder is for the purpose of obtaining a declaratory order stating which party – i.e. Sinopec or ING Bank N.V. – the shipowners should pay, for bunkers supplied to the “MV PRIVGULF” and its associated vessel, the “MV PRIVMED”.

The South African proceedings, dealing with the issue of joinder, thus differ from the Singapore proceedings, which dealt with the interpleader procedure, while the UK proceedings adjudicated on whether a bunker supply contract is a contract for the sale of goods within the meaning of s.2(1) of the Sale of Goods Act, 1979.

The South African proceedings also contrast with the US proceedings by virtue of the fact that there is no possibility of a maritime lien for the supply of necessaries under South African Admiralty law.

The Durban High Court has reserved judgment.