- Admiralty Court rules on port dues claims (P&O Princess Cruises International v ‘Columbus’ and ‘Vasco da Gama’)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Commercial analysis: An international group engaged in the cruise market failed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, its UK arm going into administration. Ships it had demise chartered (via subsidiaries not in the UK group) were arrested and sold in admiralty in rem actions, the proceeds being paid into court. The port where the vessels were laid up claimed unpaid dues, some at a low pre-agreed rate, but at a much higher standard rate from the date of administration. Because the port’s claim took priority (and threatened to consume much of the funds in court), other claimants (the Cautioners) challenged its entitlement, among other arguments contending that section 233B of the Insolvency Act 1986 (IA 1986) prevented reliance on a term in the port’s regulations permitting variation of the rate charged. The court rejected that argument, as the charterers were not in administration, but applied the change of rate from a later date than claimed by the port. Written by James M Turner QC, barrister at Quadrant Chambers.
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