TAM International Inc. v. The MCP Altona

In Admiralty Practice, Judicial Sales on (Updated )

The defendant ship was ordered to be sold and the order of sale provided that all reasonable expenses and agency fees necessary for the preservation, safekeeping or maintenance of the vessel were to be treated as sheriff’s costs. Upon assessment of the sheriff’s costs certain invoices and expenses were contested by one of the parties. The contested invoices included: amounts paid to the ship’s manager; invoices for parts ordered before the arrest; invoices to maintain the registration of the vessel; wages and associated expenses of a full complement of crew members; invoices for alcohol; and other miscellaneous invoices. The Assessment Officer (2012 FC 1168) allowed some but not all of the disputed amounts. The Assessment Officer found the expenses paid to the ship’s manager were reasonable and necessary and were allowed. Invoices for items or services not necessary for the preservation, safety or management of the vessel were disallowed. The invoices for parts ordered outside of the period covered by the order of sale were not allowed. The invoices for maintaining the registration of the vessel were allowed only for the period applicable to the arrest and sale, which was 1/24 of the entire period. The wages and associated expenses of all but two crew members were allowed, the number being arrived at based on the safe manning certificate of the vessel. Invoices for alcohol were disallowed as not reasonable. The mortgagee appealed those parts of the award with regard to manning and flag registration.

Decision: Appeal dismissed.

Held: The Court should not intervene in an assessment officer’s decision absent an error in principle or an award of an amount so unreasonable as to suggest such an error. With regard to manning, no evidence was submitted as to the minimum crew required during anchorage. With regard to the flag registration, the decision to allow the expenses only to the date of sale does not reflect an error in principle.