In Singapore, a decision relating to the various parties' competing interests was given by the former Attorney General, Mr Justice Steven Chong, in July 2015. The decision considered whether "interpleader relief" was available to Charterers. If granted, interpleader relief would mean that the charterers who ordered the bunkers, would be allowed to pay the disputed sum into court, and then walk away and allow the other parties to argue over who should receive it.
In order for interpleader relief to be available to the charterers, the relevant parties, i.e. the physical and contractual suppliers (including the Singaporean OW Bunkers entities), had to prove that they had competing "adverse" claims. In order for the claims to be "adverse", both parties had to establish that it had a prima facie claim to the payment of the bunkers.
The Court decided that the claims were not adverse as the physical suppliers could not establish a prima facie right to be paid the price of the bunkers by the charterers.
The Singapore Court's decision was limited to the procedural issue of whether interpleader relief was available, and did not address the substantive question of who was entitled to receive payment for the bunkers. However, it was implicit in the Court's finding that there were no competing claims, and that its view was that the contractual supplier was entitled to receive payment from the charterers/vessel. In that sense, a clear indication has been given that if the question came before the Singapore Court, it would be minded to reach a similar conclusion to that of the UK Supreme Court in RES COGITANS.
Similar issues have arisen in decisions in the Singapore Courts such as "Star Quest" and "Bunga Melati 5" in which physical suppliers have been limited in their attempts to look to parties other than OWB / Dynamic for recovery. A more detailed analysis on these decisions will be provided at a later date.