Amirault v. Prince Nova (The)

In Purchase and Sale of Ships on (Updated )

This was a motion to strike the Statement of Claim as being outside the jurisdiction of the court. The Plaintiff, a ship broker, alleged that it had entered into an option to the "Prince Nova" with the corporate Defendant. the owner of the "Prince Nova". The alleged terms of the option were that it was to be exercised only after the Plaintiff found a buyer for resale and that the Plaintiff was to be paid a 5% commission on the initial sale price. The Plaintiff alleged that it had found a buyer who was willing to purchase the ship for US$1.85 million but that the Defendant entered into direct negotiations with the purchaser and ultimately sold the ship for US$1.4 million. The Plaintiff further alleged that the President of the Defendant had wrongly interfered with their economic relations by inducing the Defendant corporation to breach its contract with the Plaintiff. The Defendants admitted that the corporate Defendant had entered into a non-exclusive brokerage agreement with the Plaintiff with a 5% commission. The corporate Defendant further admitted it had given the Plaintiff an option to purchase but alleged that the option to purchase had expired. The motions judge noted, without deciding, that if the agreement was a mere brokerage agreement it might not fall within the court’s jurisdiction. However, if the agreement was one relating to the sale of a ship, it would fall within the court’s jurisdiction. Given the pleadings and the contradictory affidavits, the motions judge was not able to decide the true nature of the agreement and therefore dismissed the motion by the corporate Defendant. The motions judge did, however, allow the motion by the President of the corporate Defendant. The motions judge held that the claim against him was one in tort and was outside the jurisdiction of the court.