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What do caveats have to do with ships?
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 06 November 2019

A caveat registered in the courts serves to prevent a ship's arrest by committing to pay a bond for any sum claimed against the ship which is equal to or less than the amount stated in the caveat. Entering a caveat against release does not automatically entitle the caveator to the security flowing from a ship in respect of which a caveat has been entered. A request for security can be made only when there is a subsisting claim against the ship in respect of which the caveat is entered.

Doing maritime business in Nigeria's $10 billion charter market
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 21 August 2019

The general Nigerian economic landscape could be seen as challenging, but its robustness and potential make it worthwhile for parties that do their research. As the Nigerian ship charter market is estimated to be worth at least $10 billion, there is a lot of potential for interested parties to benefit.

Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019: a review
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 31 July 2019

The president recently assented to the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Bill, successfully concluding almost a decade of advocacy to implement such a law in order to curb and deter sea piracy, armed robbery and other unlawful acts at sea. The new law has ended the controversy around whether the crime of sea piracy is defined in any local legislation and bestowed on the Federal High Court exclusive jurisdiction to determine matters of armed robbery and other unlawful acts at sea.

Who is the official Receiver of Wrecks?
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 19 June 2019

Wrecks pose a real danger to navigational safety and the marine environment and their expeditious removal, control and management is therefore a key concern. The issue of wreck control in Nigeria has been the subject of an increasingly fierce conflict between the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Special tariff regime proposed for vessel acquisition
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 05 June 2019

A tripartite arrangement between the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Customs Service and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) seeks to encourage the expansion of Nigeria's indigenous fleet by creating a special tariff regime for vessel acquisition in the country. According to NIMASA Director General Dakuku Peterside, the high cost of vessel acquisition is gradually driving away many indigenous players in the maritime sector.

Can NIMASA stop issuing cabotage waivers?
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 29 May 2019

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has announced a five-year strategic plan to stop the issuance of cabotage waivers. This plan appears to be a tacit admission that the waiver regime – which was intended to be a stop-gap measure pending the development of indigenous capacity – is derailing the country's lofty cabotage goals. Nonetheless, the cessation of the issuance of cabotage waivers represents a significant shift in policy.

NIMASA introduces new compliance strategy for cabotage
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 24 April 2019

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) recently issued a marine notice to further the Cabotage Act's objectives and to ensure strict compliance. It is expected that this notice would, among other things, ensure greater compliance with the cabotage regime and drive wider indigenous participation in offshore marine operations. However, as the NIMASA has not introduced a fine or other punishment for non-compliance, full compliance with the notice cannot be guaranteed.

Limiting shipowners' liability for compulsory pilotage services
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 06 March 2019

It is not uncommon for shipowners to incur liability for acts or omissions for which neither they nor their employees are directly responsible. This is particularly common in the compulsory pilotage field. However, even in cases where liability cannot be disputed, shipowners may be entitled to limit their liability or, in some cases, escape it entirely.

Senate reapproves National Transport Commission Bill
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 06 February 2019

In late 2018 the president declined to assent to the National Transport Commission Bill (which the Senate had passed in March 2018). The president cited the need to review certain fiscal provisions set out in the bill, as well as concerns over the duplication of functions which already fell within the statutory mandates of existing agencies. The Senate recently formally reapproved the bill after examining it in view of the president's observations.

Legal limits of armed guards on board ships
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 16 January 2019

Voyaging in West African waters, particularly the Gulf of Guinea, is considered dangerous and raises the question of whether shipowners are entitled to put armed guards on board their vessels to protect them from attacks by arms-bearing third parties. Considering reported attacks of armed robbers at sea, kidnappings for ransom and other criminal occurrences in Nigerian waters, shipowners and operators have explored how to optimise the protection of both ships and cargo.

Limiting shipowner liability: how to have your cake and eat it
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 02 January 2019

Shipowners whose ships have caused damage will not want their ship to be arrested, but also will not want to pay damages to the extent of the actual claim. Luckily, shipowners can ensure that their ships are not arrested and at the same time significantly limit the total amount payable. To cap it all off, shipowners do not have to accept liability. If this is not having your cake and eating it, then nothing is.

Supreme Court overrules previous case law on service outside jurisdiction
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 10 October 2018

In a watershed decision, the Supreme Court appears to have overruled itself on the question of what constitutes 'outside jurisdiction' in relation to the Admiralty Court (Federal High Court) for the purpose of determining whether leave of court is required to effect service of an originating process. The decision puts to bed the decade-long unease surrounding the territorial jurisdiction of the Admiralty Court in the wake of MV Arabella.

Liberal approach to enforcement of crew wage claims
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 05 September 2018

Following the Federal High Court's recent ruling that claims for crew wages fall outside its jurisdiction, practitioners and other observers are understandably eager for judicial elaboration on the fate of such claims. Although initial reactions appear to be that crew wage claims may no longer be enforceable through the adoption of the in rem procedure, some have argued that the ruling, being merely persuasive, can and should be sidestepped by other Federal High Court judges.

Claims for unpaid crew wages unenforceable in Federal High Court
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 01 August 2018

Maritime claims are generally under the Federal High Court's exclusive jurisdiction and enforceable by an admiralty action in rem or in personam. However, in a decision which portends significant implications for Nigeria's maritime jurisprudence, the court recently held that a claim for crew wages fell outside its jurisdiction.

Ship detention gone rogue
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 23 May 2018

The chief of naval staff has claimed that the recently promulgated Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution of Vessels and Persons in Nigeria's Maritime Environment 2016 (HSOPs) will provide consolidated guidance for the harmonious management of the arrest, detention and prosecution of vessels and suspects, as well as seizure and forfeiture. However, despite the fanfare that accompanied their launch, the HSOPs have no legal potency or operational clarity.

Proper service of processes in admiralty action in rem
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 02 May 2018

Various questions can arise regarding the service of processes in admiralty proceedings. For example, what happens if a ship (X) is named as the first defendant in a writ of summons, along with a second defendant which is merely referred to as the "owner of X"? Does the action cease to be one in rem? Further, where X is a foreign ship, is leave of court required to effect service on the second defendant? Although a recent Court of Appeal decision is instructive in this regard, it was arguably reached per incuriam.

Don't let your maritime claim expire
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 25 April 2018

Maritime claims arise in relation to the ownership, possession, mortgage and general operation of a ship and are primarily enforced by an admiralty action in rem or in personam. Admiralty actions do not last forever; rather, they have prescribed limitation periods, which often vary depending on the type of claim. Thus, if a claim is not brought within the time prescribed by the relevant law or contract, a party with an otherwise valid claim will generally lose its right of action on that claim.

Conversion claims based on unauthorised creation of lien on cargo
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 04 April 2018

Where a bill of lading holder fails to take delivery within a reasonable time, the carrier may be entitled to land and store the goods at the cost of the bill of lading holder. This common-sense position accords perfectly with the Bill of Lading Act 1856. Although conversion claims based on the creation of unauthorised liens on cargo are maintainable against carriers, cargo holders should remember that this is the case only in specific circumstances.

Status of progressive storage charges
Akabogu & Associates
  • Litigation
  • Nigeria
  • 27 March 2018

In a recent Court of Appeal case, the appellant terminal operators challenged the Nigerian Shippers' Council's powers to review local storage charges unilaterally. The judgment gives further judicial impetus to the government's policy intent, particularly with regard to storage operations at the nation's ports. However, it conflicts with an earlier decision by the same court concerning the Nigerian Shippers' Council's role as the economic regulator of the Nigerian ports.

Status of progressive storage charges
Akabogu & Associates
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Nigeria
  • 21 March 2018

In a recent Court of Appeal case, the appellant terminal operators challenged the Nigerian Shippers' Council's powers to review local storage charges unilaterally. The judgment gives further judicial impetus to the government's policy intent, particularly with regard to storage operations at the nation's ports. However, it conflicts with an earlier decision by the same court concerning the Nigerian Shippers' Council's role as the economic regulator of the Nigerian ports.

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