Bring the vessel to court: The unique feature of the action in rem in the admiralty law proceedings
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Admiralty law, one of the oldest fields of law, has developed distinctive and unique features that distinguish it from other fields. One of these characteristics originates from the commencement of litigation, where a claim can be initiated through two different routes. On the one hand, by the action in personam, where a claim is issued and served on the person/company liable for the damages suffered. On the other hand, the action in rem is a unique action only obtainable under the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the High Court and it is an action against the “res”, ship or ships of named or unnamed defendants. Before the decision of the House of Lords in the Indian Grace (No. 2), it was clear that the action in rem was an action with a number of particular features and that it was separate from an action in personam. Nevertheless, in the case of the Indian grace No. 2, Lord Steyn states that an action in rem and an action in personam are the same thing from the beginning of the litigation. It is submitted that Lord Steyn's controversial statement, especially in not considering the maritime lien relevant to the matter, has radically reformulated the nature of the action in rem and that – “for some”–its reasons for so doing do not justify the reformulation.
- International Review of Law [60 items ]