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Forum for bringing a collision claim - is the place of incident more appropriate?

Collisions and available forums for bringing claims – The Al Khattiya [2018] provides useful guidance.

The defendant’s vessel collided with two anchored vessels in Fujairah anchorage. Few months later a sister ship of the offending vessel was arrested in UK by the claimants to establish UK jurisdiction. Issue now was whether the claim could be brought in UAE or UK.

If it was UAE then the claim of $30mil would have been reduced to $14.7m (or possibly even $5.4m) due to applicable limits. This clearly suited the owners of the offending vessel.

Following The Spiliada [1987] the burden rested on defendants to show that UAE was a more appropriate forum, which they could not discharge to courts' satisfaction. It was found that the place of the accident is not the most significant factor (but only one of the ‘many’ factors) in determining this, others being nationality of witnesses & experts, language of documentation and location of P&I clubs. By arresting a vessel in UK, the claimants had established UK jurisdiction as a matter of right.

To be noted - one of the claimants were Qatari based and they challenged that given the political tension, they would not have received a fair trial in UAE. Though only academic, the court disagreed.

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