Booth v Captain Phillips, Hijazi & Ghosheh Co, Blue Ice Shipping Corporation and International Ship Management
Damage sustained within the jurisdiction for the purposes of establishing jurisdiction in the UK under CPR Part 6.20(8) has been held to mean some loss which has been sustained by the claimant, (in this case loss of dependency and funeral expenses) rather than the damage, (in this case the death of the claimant’s husband abroad) which was sufficient to complete the cause of action in tort. This decision will make it easier to establish UK jurisdiction for claims arising out of accidents abroad.
The claimant was the South African born, UK resident, widow of a British chief engineer who had been employed by a Jordanian company on a ship registered in the Bahamas and owned by a Liberian company. He had been killed at work on board the ship in Egypt by a winch which had been fitted by engineers in Australia. The claimant issued proceedings against the Master, owners and managers of the ship in the Admiralty Court, London on the basis that the Master was ordinarily resident within the UK when not at sea and also on the basis that damage was suffered within the UK by the claimant as widow, and by her husband’s estate, even though the death occurred in Egypt. The defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the UK courts. Nigel Teare QC, sitting as a deputy judge of the Admiralty Court, upheld the jurisdiction of the UK. He held that dependants within the jurisdiction suffered damage here even though the death occurred abroad. He held that that was the natural meaning of CPR part 6.20(8), a construction that was supported by persuasive Commonwealth authorities. On the same basis a person injured abroad who returns to the UK and who suffers some loss here will establish jurisdiction. Even where jurisdiction is established, the Court will still need to be satisfied that the forum conveniens is in the UK. On the facts of this case the Court also held that there was an arguable claim against the Master within the UK. This assisted the claimant to establish the UK as the forum conveniens.
The defendants appealed to the Court of Appeal. Just before the appeal was due to be heard in February 2005 the defendants made a substantial offer to settle the claim rather than have the decision of the Admiralty Court considered by the Court of Appeal.
Case report submitted by Grahame Aldous, counsel