McDermott Gulf Operating Company v. Oceanographia Sociedad Anonima de Capital Variable

In Admiralty Practice, Stays of Proceedings on (Updated )

This was an application to stay proceedings commenced in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on the basis that the court lacked jurisdiction simpliciter or was otherwise not the appropriate forum. The underlying claim by the plaintiff was for charter hire and other charges allegedly owed by the defendants. The first plaintiff was a Panamanian company and was the owner of the vessel which was registered in Barbados. The second plaintiff managed the charter party for the first plaintiff and was a Nova Scotia company. The defendants were resident in the United States or Mexico. The area of operations of the vessel that were the subject of the proceedings were entirely in Mexico. The Charterparty provided for Nova Scotia jurisdiction and Canadian law. The moving defendant was not the charterer under the Charterparty but it was the entity that obtained the benefit of the vessel and it appears that it had essentially assumed the obligations of the charterer. The Court first referred to the Nova Scotia Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act (“CJPTA”) which lists the circumstances where the court has jurisdiction. These include where there is an agreement on jurisdiction or where there is a real and substantial connection with the jurisdiction. The Court held that there was insufficient evidence of an agreement on jurisdiction given that the moving defendant was not a party to the Charterparty. The Court next considered whether there was a real and substantial connection with the province and noted that the CJPTA lists some of the factors to be taken into account when determining a real and substantial connection. The Court found that none of these factors were applicable but held that other factors may be taken into consideration including the connection of the parties to the jurisdiction, fairness, the involvement of other parties, comity and others. The Court reviewed these various factors and ultimately held that Nova Scotia did have jurisdiction. The Court further held that Mexico was not a more appropriate forum.