The Court of Appeal for England and Wales has issued a major ruling that puts to rest an international debate over whether someone can arrest a ship without first putting up security, in an opinion that widely quotes the work of Tulane Law Professor Martin Davies and articles in the Tulane Maritime Law Journal.
In the important decision in Stallion Eight Shipping Co., S.A., v Natwest Markets PLC, the court ruled that a party wishing to arrest a ship as security for an admiralty claim does not have to provide for any costs or losses that the defendant might incur as a result of the ship’s detention.
Throughout its November ruling, the Court of Appeal widely cites Davies’ arguments about the rights and potential liabilities in ship arrests, and quotes articles printed in the Tulane journal. The court solidified more than 150 years of maritime law, and prominently showcases the scholarly debate launched in 2013 by Davies and that year’s Tetley Lecturer, Justice Bernard Eder of the High Court of England and Wales.
Following Eder’s visit to Tulane, the journal published an article by Eder which argued that security payments should be required to prevent frivolous ship arrests and to protect ship owners from losses resulting from wrongful arrests. In the same edition, Davies counter-argued that the change proposed by Eder was too radical a departure from existing law.
“Almost no one would ever arrest a ship if they had to put up counter-security first. The stakes would be too high, and only the biggest cases or those most likely to succeed would ever be made,” Davies said. “Had the court ruled to make a change, it would have been an earthquake for admiralty procedure throughout the common law world. The court was keenly aware of this. Fortunately, it did not.”
The court’s decision addresses the question of whether a creditor may be held liable for damages in cases when a ship arrest ultimately is found to be unjustified, even though undertaken in good faith. The court frames its analysis of the question largely in terms of the debate between Justice Eder and Davies, and ultimately agrees with Davies, with extensive citation and credit to his work, and to the article in the journal.
“I am pleased beyond measure to see the work of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal and the Tulane Maritime Law Center used to frame one of the biggest debates in admiralty law – entitlement to arrest – on the high profile stage of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales,” Davies said. “Now, the maritime law community around the world will study this case and it will stand as the authority on the requirements for ship arrest – and the Tulane maritime program is front and center in the court’s opinion.”
English law has great influence on maritime cases, Davies said, so the impact will have broad international visibility.
“The Court of Appeal’s decision is another demonstration of the scholarly reach and impact of our extraordinary faculty,” said Law School Dean David Meyer. “Congratulations to Martin and the Tulane Maritime Law Center!”