Harms Bergung, Transport & Heavylift GmbH & Co KG v Harms Offshore AHT 'Uranus' GmbH & Co KG and others

Admiralty – Jurisdiction. The claimant German ship management company brought claims against the defendant owners and or demise charterers of six anchor-handling tugs (the vessels). The claimants sought damages for unlawful termination of ship management agreements by the defendant (the ship management claims). It further contended that it was a co-owner of the vessels, under the owners' articles of association and that the owners had wrongfully sold the vessels without notice (the articles of association claim). The defendants contended that the English court did not have jurisdiction in relation the articles of association claims and sought declarations to that effect. The Admiralty Court stayed the ship management claims, ruling that the defendants were not entitled to submit to the jurisdiction of the court in respect of them. The defendants succeeded in their challenge to the jurisdiction in respect of the articles of association claim which was for damages caused by the sale of the vessels and, therefore, could not be properly characterised as a claim to the ownership of the vessel, falling within s 20(2)(a) of the Senior Courts Act 1981.

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