When a ship is involved in a dispute, the first question is "who is its owner?"
This article was written by Mary Thomson and first published by ILAS news, a newsletter of the Insurance Law Association of Singapore, in 2006.
Before taking action in a case involving a ship, it is crucial to identify the owner correctly. Suing the wrong party can result in delays, inconvenience and costs or – more seriously – a mistake can extinguish any prospect of success because the claim against the correct party is time-barred or no longer viable.
The first question to be asked is whether the question of ownership is conclusively determined by the entry of ownership in the relevant registry.
To answer this, the logical starting point is section 12B(4) of the Hong Kong High Court Ordinance.