Admiralty Jurisdiction — What’s do you understand with the admiralty jurisdiction? Under the admiralty legal context, it covers two [2] main scope, as follows:-

1. Admiralty in Rem; and
2. Admiralty in Personam

Mind you, a dedicated Admiralty Court has been established in Malaysia at the Jalan Duta Kuala Lumpur Court complex with the following objectives:-

  1. Any claim arising from or related to the 18 categories of Admiralty matters within section 24 (b) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964;
  2. Any claim relating to the transaction of international trade and commerce, including commercial and shipping agreements, import and export carriage of goods by sea;
  3. Limitation actions;
  4. Marine insurance and Reinsurance including agency and brokerage matters;
  5. Construction, design, maintenance and repairs of ships and any floating vessels;
  6. Civil claims arising out of Marine Pollution; 
  7. Marine related Agency, Multimodal Transport and Warehousing;
  8. Financing of maritime activities, including ship financing and documentary credit financing and maritim project financing;
  9. Death or personal injury, loss or damage in or about marine facilities defined to include ports, docks, berths, offshore installations and any other forms of structure providing sea or river related services;
  10. Arbitration, including interim applications for the preservation pending final arbitration award, the appointment of arbitrators; appeal from domestic awards; setting aside of awards and the enforcement of Awards by the Arbitrators;
  11. Marine Regulation and Compliance; and
  12. Disputes pertaining to the welfare of seafarers.

The Admiralty Court is to be as a one-stop center, located and centralized at the Jalan Duta Kuala Lumpur court complex with the capacity and the expertise to deal with all forms of maritime issues of domestic and international flavor, and from every state in the country.

Given the range of the maritime activities in and about the local players, it is essential that the jurisdiction of the Admiralty Court is sufficiently wide to embrace all aspects of maritime related disputes, not strictly limited to Admiralty In Rem and Admiralty In Personam claims.

Maritime related cases would include logistics, bill of lading disputes, marine insurance, documentary credit, loss, damage or injury in ports.

The Admiralty Court will have a dedicated Admiralty Registry for the filling of Admiralty papers, staffed by highly trained personnel including an Admiralty Bailiff. There will be a duty Admiralty Registrar acting as Sheriff at
all times, conversant with admiralty laws, practices and procedures, who would be contactable off business hours, on matters of urgency.

Another key feature of the Admiralty Court is its suitably qualified Admiralty Judge who will ensure maritime international standards of law and integrity are met and administered. The maritime industry is assured that their grievances and claims will be entertained and examined by specialist eyes. The Admiralty Court will administer justice to the maritime fraternity quickly, professionally and fairly for the benefit of all parties including seafarers and those maritime professionals aboard and executing maritime related inland businesses.

In order to have a better understanding of the maritime proceedings at Admiralty Court, the following maritime disputes is for review with the Court of Appeal decision on Pemilik Kapal ‘Luna Indah’ v. Admiral Shipping Sdn Bhd. In this case, it involves the arrest of ‘Luna Indah’, whereby the respondent applied for a warrant to arrest the appellant’s vessel, the ‘Luna Indah’, the subject matter of this appeal. The appellant, desiring its vessel released, applied to the Judge-in-Chambers for leave, to provide bail upon which condition the vessel was to be released.

After the hearing, the learned Judge ordered the release of the vessel and fixed bailed at RM770k although evidence has been placed before him that the value of the vessel itself was RM520k. The appellant was dissatisfied with the amount of bail fixed by the Judge, lodged an appeal with the Court of Appeal. On the same noe, the respondent, also dissatisfied with the amount of the bail and complaining that it ought to be more than RM770k, cross-appealed.

The 2 issues requiring determination were as follows:-
i. whether this appeal was competent in the sense that it was directed against the correct 

Order; and
ii. whether the learned High Court Judge was right in fixing bail at RM770k.

READERS may wish to ponder on what are the legal issues involve and whether the High Court Judge was making a correct judgment? Please response your thoughts with aralaw@gmail.com for the proper decision.