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Change in ownership after summons had been issued, precludes ship arrest?

When Hanjin Shipping collapsed in 2016, the creditors, foreseeing sale of Hanjin fleet, scrambled to have writs of ship arrest issued in various jurisdictions so as to preserve their claims. So did the German owners who had chartered their ships to Hanjin and had a claim for unpaid hire. One of the ships named on the list was Hanjin Gdynia, which was sold to Seaspan and renamed as Seaspan Grouse. She was later arrested in Durban, South Africa in Aug'17 pursuant to a warrant issued the year before.

Seaspan argued that change in ownership after summons had been issued, precludes arrest whereas the claimants primarily relying on an English case The Monica S contended that admiralty action commences when writ is issued notwithstanding a subsequent change in ownership. The question thus before the South African Supreme Ct. in The Seaspan Grouse [2019] was - does the right to arrest the vessel accrue when the writ is issued or when it is served on the vessel?

By majority, the S.African court held that writ gives NO protection to a claimant against an intervening bonafide change of vessel ownership. This decision brings the S.African position in conflict with that in UK. It should be pointed out that the ship arrest provisions in S.Africa are also different.

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