Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Malta-registered ship to be auctioned off in Kingston

Published:Friday | December 1, 2017 | 12:00 AMMcPherse Thompson

The Malta-registered bulk carrier Trading Fabrizia, which was detained in Jamaican waters just over a year ago and is still sitting in the Kingston Harbour, is to go on the auction block on January 9, 2018 in Kingston.

The ship was 'arrested' on behalf of Italian outfit Jebmed SRL in its capacity as mortgagee of the vessel, for a debt of US$699,046.38 allegedly due from Capitalease, the owner of the ship.

In June this year, Supreme Court Justice Carol Edwards granted an application for the Admiralty Bailiff to appraise and sell the Trading Fabrizia within 30 days if Capitalease failed to provide alternative security of just over US$1.9 million to satisfy Jebmed and three other parties to the claim, namely X/O Shipping, which claimed an interest in respect of fuel supplied to the ship; Ligabue SPA, identified as an interested party; and Elburg Ship Management, agents of the former crew members of the ship, whose claim is for wages allegedly due to the crew.

However, a series of legal action that followed meant the bailiff had to hold off until a Court of Appeal decision in October.

Auction date pushed back

The Admiralty Bailiff advertised the ship for sale by sealed tender to be followed by an auction on November 21, but that has now pushed back to January 9, next year.

The London-based shipbrokers CW Kellock and Company which is handling the sale, advised the Financial Gleaner in emailed responses that bidders can submit their maximum offers in advance and need not attend the auction.

"However, a bidder, having submitted a sealed bid may also attend the auction and make new or improved bids," the company said.

Asked the rationale for submitting sealed bids if an auction would be held, CW Kellock said some international bidders will find it difficult to attend the public sale. The sale will be handled by the Admiralty Bailiff, O.A. Sherriah, at the Corporate Area Parish Court at Sutton Street in Kingston.

In the last action in the Court of Appeal, Justice Dennis Morrison noted that starting with its arrest, the dispute concerning the fate of the ship has generated considerable activity in the Admiralty Division of the Supreme Court.

On December 23, 2016, Justice Batts declined to make an order to Jebmed for sale of the ship. However, he granted Capitalease's application for the release of the ship, upon conditions which included its provision of a satisfactory bond, guarantee or undertaking in respect of the debt Jebmed claimed.

In April this year, Justice Kissock Laing refused the Admiralty Bailiff's application for sale of the ship, as well as Jebmed's application for an order for interim possession of the ship.

In June, Justice Edwards granted Jebmed's renewed application for an appraisement and sale of the ship given the significant time that had elapsed since its arrest, noting that such vessels are subject to depreciation from ordinary wear and tear and natural elements.

She granted the application for the sale if Capitalease failed to provide alternate security of US$450,000, US$139,000, US$778,497.79 and USD$537,836 in the form of bonds, guarantees, payments into court or undertaking satisfactory to Jebmed, Liguabe, Elburg Ship Management and XO Shipping A/S, respectively.

New application by Jebmed

By July 17, 2017, with some 11 days yet to run on the 30-day deadline, Jebmed filed another application before Justice Batts seeking, among other things, a stay of execution of Justice Edwards' order and a declaration that it was entitled to possession of the ship as mortgagee.

On August 7, when it came up for hearing, Justice Batts said the case had taken "a rather unusual turn", while noting that Jebmed, having successfully obtained orders for arrest and then for the sale of the ship, now had a change of heart.

Jebmed's lawyer argued, however, that what was in effect being sought was a variation of Justice Edwards' order.

Batts refused the application to vary the orders.

His decision was challenged at the Court of Appeal. However, appellate Justice Panton held that the stay Jebmed asked for actually related to Justice Edwards' order, from which there has been no appeal. Panton ruled that in those circumstances, he had no power to grant the application.