Bunker Arrest – post Res Cogitans Early Contract and Charterparty Review (Part 7 of Economic Crisis Series)

Bunker arrests   This is Part 7 of our series on how to deal with an economic crisis – a guide for international businesses.   In 2016, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the Res Cogitans, the leading case arising out of the OW Bunkers insolvency. That case had a profound effect on the shipping market, with many ship operators left with debts to the physical suppliers of the bunkers, and to OW Bunkers’ liquidators.    We are now entering the most serious economic downturn since that judgment. In that economic climate, it is fair to expect parties seeking security by ever more creative means, including an uptick in bunker arrests against time charterers. In the spirit of being prepared, we take a look at what the Res Cogitans means for bunker arrests.    In particular, in the Res Cogitans the Supreme Court held that where bunker supply agreements are made on credit terms, with a retention of title clause pending payment, title to the bunkers remained in the bunker supplier. We look at whether charterers can rely on that judgment to defeat the attachment – after all, if charterers don’t actually own the bunkers, how can the arrest succeed? Contact Calum, or your normal ZFZ, for more.