Case summary:Claiming in Malta expenses for works on ships

Daniela Bartolo | Published on 26 Jun 2012

Ccmalta Default



The plaintiff argued that it had been engaged by Britannia Shipping International Ltd for the carrying out of works on the vessel. The works were carried out between 2 July 2009 and 12 September 2009.

Before being paid for the work carried out by the plaintiff, the vessel was transferred to a new owner, Fender Care Marine Ltd.

The vessel was arrested in Malta but a deposit and bank guarantee made in Court cleared the vessel from arrest. The court ordered the plaintiff to file a €6,000 guarantee within two weeks. Since no guarantee was given, an application was filed by the vessel to authorise it to withdraw the amount. The Court accepted the vessel’s application and funds were withdrawn.

Later, the plaintiff filed a direct action against the vessel, which at the time of the suit was not in Malta. It claimed that this had right of action in rem against the vessel under Article 742 B (p) of Chapter 12 of the Laws of Malta.

Court’s opinion


The First Hall of the Civil Court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to rule on this case. The Court noted that the vessel was not in Malta at the time when the proceedings were filed or during the case. The Court observed that its jurisdiction in in rem suits is based on a number of factors, including:

  1. The claim as a cause of action listed in the law
  2. The action brought against the vessel as the defendant in the suit
  3. The present of the vessel in Maltese territorial waters
  4. The arrest or prohibition of departure of the vessel from Malta throughout the proceedings (even if the amount claimed is not deposited in Court) so as to enable the enforcement of the Court decision

The Court concluded that since the vessel had departed and the deposit withdrawn, it had no jurisdiction to decide on this action. The Court accepted the jurisdiction plea and dismissed the plaintiff’s requests.

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