Secunda Marine Services Limited v. The Queen et al.

In Admiralty Jurisdiction on (Updated )

In this matter the Plaintiff shipowner had obtained an arbitration award against one of the Defendants in London for breach of a charterparty. The Plaintiff subsequently registered the award in the Federal Court and then brought this action against the charterer and against various related companies and the individual alleged to have effective control of all of the Defendants. The relief claimed by the Plaintiff was a declaration that the debts of the charterer were the debts of all of the Defendants and a declaration that the assets of one of the Defendants were the assets of the charterer. The Defendants brought this application challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal Court arguing that the declarations sought were matters of Property and Civil Rights and therefore within provincial jurisdiction. The Prothonotary, however, held that enforcement of foreign arbitral awards had long been considered within Federal Court jurisdiction. Further, the Federal Court had the implied jurisdiction necessary to enforce its judgements, including the recognition of the foreign arbitral award. The Prothonotary next considered the issue of the piercing of the corporate veil and concluded that it was arguable that the various Defendants were for many purposes one and the same entity and thus should not be entitled to the protection of incorporation as separate entities. The Prothonotary expressly did not decide this issue but merely decided that it was not plain and obvious the Plaintiff could not succeed. (Note: This case should be compared with that of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Pan Liberty Navigation Co. Ltd. v World Link (HK) Resources Ltd., 2005 BCCA 206 (summary), and TMR Energy Limited v. State Property Fund of Ukraine et al., 2005 FCA 28 (summary))