We have worked on a number of maritime cases including the following:
THE VESSEL MT SEA TIGER
The Plaintiff supplied bunker services to the vessel MT Thelma in September 2010, on which it defaulted in making payment. Subsequently, MT Thelma was sold in execution of a Judgment in March 2011 and registered in the Nigerian Registry under a new name “Sea Tiger.” On a voyage to Ghana, the Plaintiff caused the vessel Sea Tiger to be arrested for unpaid bunker supplies made to the vessel before the sale. The Defendant brought an action for the unconditional release of the vessel Sea Tiger from arrest. Counsel for the Plaintiff opposed the application on grounds inter alia that the nature of the Plaintiff’s claim is a maritime lien which travels with the ship notwithstanding the fact of forced sale and change of ownership. The High Court(Commercial Division) held that bunker supplies did not constitute maritime liens under Ghanaian law under Sections 66 to 68 of the Ghana Shipping Act, 2003(Act 645) and, therefore, the liability did not follow the vessel upon its sale. However, the Court held that it is Section 446 of Act 645 which gives the statutory framework for dealing with liabilities such as bunker provisions incurred by the vessel through service to it in transactions with charterers, owners and persons in possession of the ship.
THE VESSEL KOTA MANIS
The Plaintiffs sued the Defendant, operators of the vessel KOTA MANIS for a quantity of 466 bags of rice which became mouldy on the voyage from Karachi in Pakistan to Tema, Ghana. The Plaintiffs’ action was commenced about 6 years after the event. The transaction was covered by a Bill of Lading which had a one-year limitation period after which no action could be brought against the Defendant for the kind of loss complained of. The Defendant pleaded this limitation period and The Hague Rules which also provided a one-year time bar. The High Court(Commercial Division) held that by the application of the Bill of Lading Act, 1961(Act 42) which incorporated The Hague rules, the Plaintiffs’ failure to commence legal action to ventilate its grievances within a year extinguished its right to mount this action.
THE VESSEL MT GRACE
The Plaintiff sued the vessel MT Grace, its owners and all persons interested in the vessel for the Defendants’ failure to sell and deliver a seaworthy vessel to it after it had paid huge sums of money to the Defendants. The Plaintiff caused the arrest of the vessel when it arrived at the Tema port and bail for release was set by the Court. The vessel owners did not post security and it remained in Ghanaian waters for many years during the hearing. Defendant also counterclaimed damages for unlawful arrest. This case was amicably settled by the parties in the middle of trial.
MT IMPERIAL, MT ELEOUSA & MT STREAM
This case involved the shortage of petroleum product voyaged from Tema to Takoradi by these vessels. The shipper deducted the value of the shortage before paying the carrier its due freight. The carrier brought this action to recover deductions and partly argued inherent vice in the shipping of liquid substances as defence for the shortage. The case also dealt with demurrage, the earning of freight and the calling-in of a demand guarantee provided by the carrier to the shipper. The High Court (Commercial Division) held that the shipper was entitled to make deductions and the concept of inherent vice was held to inapplicable.