Cargo ship seized in US$1.2m dispute freed
Admiralty judge Anselmo Reyes yesterday freed a dry cargo ship that had been under arrest since Christmas Day in a dispute over a charter hire agreement involving more than US$1.2 million.
The 39,988 deadweight tonne dry cargo ship Jimrise, which is anchored near Lamma Island, is owned by Jimrise Shipping, but operations were managed by a mainland company, Jimei Hua Shipping, registered in the British Virgin Islands.
The ship was arrested by Hong Kong law firm Hart Giles on behalf of Cosmotrade Exports, which was seeking security for the US$1.2 million plus interest and costs it is allegedly owned.
But the seizure was challenged by lawyers from Holman Fenwick Willan, working for the ship's owner.
The arrest was made as part of a wider wrangle between Cosmotrade and the owners and charterers of the Jimrise, which is likely to go to arbitration in London.
Justice Reyes said two conditions must be met if vessels are arrested in Hong Kong.
The first was that the outfit at the time when the dispute arose owned, chartered or controlled the ship.
The second was that the outfit must also be the beneficial owner or was the 'demise charterer', responsible for the use and all expenses involving the ships at the time of the dispute.
Reyes said lawyers for Cosmotrade had not established that Jimei Hua was the beneficial owner or demise charterer.
But he also rejected a claim by Edward Alder, counsel for the ship's owner, that Hart Giles and Cosmotrade were wrong to have the ship arrested and continue to have the ship detained for 15 days after they were sent copies of the charter party agreement at the end of last month.
Reyes said Hart Giles had not acted in a 'cavalier' fashion and the ship's detention was not wrongful.