Troubled Waters

Jeremy M Joseph - Jun 01, 2015

As Malaysia's dry shipper struggle to stay afloat, the country's shipping lawyers are being kept busy.

Malaysia’s Maritime sector has progressed and transformed exponentially over the last 2 decades. It currently encompasses a wide spectrum of economic activities in­cluding fishing; oil and gas exploration and extraction; ocean and coastal ship­ping and transportation; commodity sales and mobility; ship construction and re­pair; piracy and defence mechanism; and leisure and tourism sport and activities.

Given the importance of the sector, ancillary mari­time activities have rapidly evolved and grown into dedicated support services relating to freight and haulage logistics, legal, banking, insurance, educa­tion and consultancy, and information technology. In this new era of heightened trans­formation, the Maritime industry in­spires and stimulates the Nation’s growth. The Third Industrial Master Plan (IMP3) par­ticularly encourages and supports ship build­ing, ship repairs and long term charters with China for the shipment of Crude Palm Oil (CPO), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Liq­uefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) over the next 25 years. This augurs well for Maritime Malaysia. In this climate, the establishment of the Admiralty Court is of critical significance, signaling the coun­try’s readiness to implement structural enhancement to its current legal system, with a view to making Ma­laysia a favourable jurisdiction to resolve maritime disputes. This measure will act as impetus towards the further growth of the Nation’s maritime stature. The newly launched Admiralty Court is fully sup­ported by the Government of Malaysia and the Malaysian maritime industry. It will play a piv­otal role in creating a dependable link between the maritime industry and the law. The Admi­ralty Court will function as a specialist Court that responds to disputes with efficiency, skill and speed, to ensure that maritime rights are ef­fectively and carefully protected and enforced. The Admiralty Court is intended as a one-stop centre, located and centralized in Kuala Lumpur with the capacity and the expertise to deal with all forms of maritime issues of domestic and interna­tional flavour, and from every state in the country. Given the range of the maritime activities in and about Malaysia, it is essential that the jurisdiction of the Admiralty Court is sufficiently wide to em­brace all aspects of maritime related disputes, not limited to Admiralty In Rem and In Personam claims.

Maritime related cases would include lo­gistics, bill of lading disputes, marine insurance, documentary credit, loss, damage or injury in ports. The categories of cases that are to be heard by the Admiralty Court are:

1 Any claim arising from or related to the 18 categories of Admiralty matters within s.24 (b) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

2 Any claim relating to the transaction of international trade and commerce, including com­mercial and shipping agreements, import and export carriage of goods by sea.

3 Limitation actions.

4 Marine insurance and Reinsurance in­cluding agency and brokerage matters.

5 Construction, Design, maintenance and repairs of ships.

6 Civil claims arising out of Marine Pollu­tion.

7 Marine related Agency, Multimodal Transport and Warehousing.

8 Financing of maritime activities, includ­ing ship financing and documentary credit financing and maritime project financing.

9 Death or personal injury, loss or dam­age in or about marine facilities defined to include ports, docks, berths, offshore installations and any other forms of structure providing sea or river re­lated services.

10 Arbitration, including interim applica­tions for the preservation pending final arbitration award, the appointment of arbitrators; appeal from domestic awards; setting aside of awards; and the enforcement of awards.

11 Marine Regulation and Compliance.

12 Disputes pertaining to the welfare of sea­men.

The Admiralty Court will have a dedicated Admiral­ty Registry for the filling of Admiralty papers, staffed by highly trained personnel including an Admiralty Bailiff. There will be a duty Admiralty Registrar acting as Sheriff at all times, conversant with admi­ralty laws, practices and procedures, who would be contactable off business hours in matters of urgency. Another key feature of the Admiralty Court is its suitably qualified Admiralty Judge who will en­sure maritime international standards of law and integrity are met and administered. The maritime industry is assured that their grievances and claims will be entertained and examined by specialist eyes.

The Admiralty Court will administer justice to the maritime community quickly, profes­sionally and fairly for the benefit of all parties.

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