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Namibia: Supreme Court orders foreign interested party to provide security for vessel preservation costs

1 September 2023
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Overview

  • In a Namibian judgment delivered on 24 August 2023, the Supreme Court of Namibia upheld the High Court’s earlier decision to exercise its inherent jurisdiction, ordering a foreign interested party to provide security for the preservation costs of a vessel under arrest, where the ownership of the vessel was in dispute.
  • Although the facts of this specific case are novel, this represents an important development in Namibian admiralty law, where neither the applicable Vice-Admiralty Rules nor the Rules of the Namibian High Court expressly provide for the relief sought.
  • Given the close relationships between the jurisdictions, this judgment may also, in due course and when the appropriate case arises, impact the established South African law regarding the responsibility for preservation costs in the context of an opposed judicial sale.

In a judgment delivered on 24 August 2023 (available from NamibLII here), the Supreme Court of Namibia upheld the High Court’s earlier decision to exercise its inherent jurisdiction, ordering a foreign interested party to provide security for the preservation costs of a vessel under arrest, where the ownership of the vessel was in dispute. The costs in question were occasioned by the delay caused by the foreign interested party’s unreasonable and vexatious opposition to the judicial sale of the vessel by public auction in 2022.

Although the facts of this specific case are novel, this represents an important development in Namibian admiralty law, where neither the applicable Vice-Admiralty Rules nor the Rules of the Namibian High Court expressly provided for the relief sought. Indeed, given the close relationships between the jurisdictions, this judgment may also, in due course and when the appropriate case arises, impact the established South African law regarding the responsibility for preservation costs in the context of an opposed judicial sale.

It is one of a series of disputes in which Bowmans are advising the lenders and mortgagee of the vessel seeking to enforce their security. Since 2016, Bowmans has worked closely with local law firm Koep & Partners to conduct more than 10 judicial ship sales in Namibia for maritime creditors and international shipping financiers. Bowmans and Koep & Partners have recently entered into a joint venture in respect of shipping work.