In a recently published judgment (NL:RBROT:2015:5907) the Rotterdam Court has confirmed that, following a charterparty hire dispute, claimants can obtain speedy injunctive relief in respect of damages, including when parties have agreed on arbitration abroad and arbitration proceedings have already commenced.

Dispute

The events leading to the dispute involved the bareboat chartering of the Panama-flag oil product tanker Mongolia. The vessel's owner had failed to record its ownership in the registry, with the result that the bareboat charterer was unable to operate the vessel legally.

The vessel thereafter went into lay-up and, following the owner's failure to respond to numerous communications, the bareboat charterer gave notice of its intention to redeliver the vessel to the owner in the port of Rotterdam on the due date under the charterparty.

Applicable law

The charterparty was subject to English law and provided for arbitration by the London Maritime Arbitrators Association. However, the charterer applied to the Rotterdam court for injunctive relief in respect of costs which it had already incurred in maintaining the vessel in lay-up at Rotterdam.

Decision

The owner argued that the charterer's application constituted a request for final judgment rather than for injunctive relief, and that it should have been filed in the arbitration. However, the court disagreed and found in favour of the charterer in granting a judgment for costs incurred in maintaining the vessel at Rotterdam after redelivery.

Comment

This judgment demonstrates how the user-friendly approach of the Rotterdam Court can be used to good advantage by the shipping industry.

Time is money and justice delayed is justice denied. Had this issue gone to arbitration, it might have been several months before the claim for costs was decided. As it was, the charterer was able to secure judgment within a matter of weeks.

If measures of enforcement are required, the judgment in injunctive relief can serve as a basis for a judicial auction of the vessel.

For further information on this topic please contact Haco van der Houven van Oordt or Marjoleine Bosma at AKD by telephone (+31 88 253 50 00) or email (hvanoordt@akd.nl or mbosma@akd.nl). The AKD website can be accessed at www.akd.nl.

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