Chapter 6

Tenth Edition (2017)

Loss of Life or Personal Injury

Merchant ships of different nationalities travel from port to port carrying goods or passengers. They incur liabilities in the course of their voyage and they subject themselves to the jurisdiction of foreign States when they enter the waters of those States. They are liable to be arrested for the enforcement of maritime claims, or seized in execution or satisfaction of judgments in legal actions arising out of collisions, salvage, loss of life or personal injury, loss or damages to goods and the like. They are liable to be detained or confiscated by the authorities of foreign States for violating their customs, regulations, safety measures, rules of the road, health regulations, and for other causes. The coastal State may exercise its criminal jurisdiction on board the vessel for the purpose of arrest or investigation in connection with certain serious crimes. In the course of an international voyage, a vessel thus subjects itself to the public and private laws of various countries. A ship traveling from port to port stays very briefly in any one port. A plaintiff seeking to enforce his maritime claim against a foreign ship has no effective remedy once it has sailed away and if the foreign owner has neither property nor residence within jurisdiction. The plaintiff may therefore detain the ship by obtaining an order of attachment whenever it is feared that the ship is likely to slip out of jurisdiction, thus leaving the plaintiff without any security.

Loss of life or personal injury occurring, whether on land or water, in direct connection with the operation of the ship.

Article 1 of the Brussel Arrest Convention and also of the Geneva Arrest Convention deals with the above subject maritime claim although the conventions has not been adopted by legislation, the principles incorporated are applicable as per Supreme Court of India judgments to invoke admiralty jurisdiction for ship arrest in India.
BCAS: 7103-1001