Evpo Agnic, The (Skipper I)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date14 July 1988
Judgment citation (vLex)[1988] EWCA Civ J0714-4
Docket Number88/0617
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Date14 July 1988
The Owners of The Cargo Lately Laden
On Board The Ship "skipper I"
The Owners of The Ship
"Evpo Agnic"

[1988] EWCA Civ J0714-4


The Master of The Rolls

(Lord Donaldson)

Lord Justice Butler-Sloss

Sir Roualeyn Cumming-Bruce





Royal Courts of Justice

MR M.N. HOWARD Q.C. and MR N.K. MEESON, instructed by Messrs Holman Fenwick & Willan, appeared for the Appellants (Defendants).

MR K.S. ROKISON Q.C. and MR STEPHEN RUTTLE, instructed by Messrs Clyde & Co., appeared for the Respondents (Plaintiffs).


This appeal from an order of Sheen J., sitting as Admiralty Judge, concerns the arrest of a putative sister ship and is said, probably rightly, to raise novel and important issues.


The story begins on some unrevealed date in 1987 when, in unrevealed circumstances, the "Skipper I" sank at some unrevealed place. The plaintiffs' claim, in the time-honoured phrase, to be "The Owners of the cargo lately laden on board the ship 'Skipper I'". The cargo was shredded steel scrap shipped in Boston under a bill of lading dated 24th April 1987 for carriage to Turkey. The bill of lading was signed on behalf of the master.


On 28th January 1988 the plaintiffs issued a writ in an admiralty action in rem against "The Owners of the Ship or Vessel 'Evpo Agnic'"and on 1st February 1988 applied for a warrant for the arrest of that ship. The application was supported by an affidavit sworn by Miss Fairhurst, a legal assistant in the employ of Clyde & Co., the plaintiffs' solicitors. She swore two further affidavits at later stages, but this was the affidavit which led to the issue of the warrant and to the arrest of the "Evpo Agnic".

Miss Fairhurst made the following points:

  • (i) "The Plaintiffs' claim against the Owners of the Ship or Vessel 'EVPO AGNIC', who are, or were, at all material times the Owners of the Ship or Vessel 'SKIPPER 1', is for damages for breach of an oral and/or wirtten contract and/or duty in and about the loading, handling, custody and care of the Plaintiffs' cargo and the carriage thereof on board the Defendants' Ship or Vessel 'SKIPPER 1' in the year 1987".

  • (ii) "The person who would be liable in an action in personam ('the relevant person') when the cause of action arose against the 'SKIPPER 1' is also the beneficial owner as respects all the shares in the ship or vessel 'EVPO AGNIC' at the time the Writ was issued herein."

  • (iii) The "Skipper I" was at all material times owned by Skipper Shipping Co. S.A. of Panama and was managed by Pothitos Shipping Co. S.A. of Panama.

  • (iv) The shareholders in Skipper Shipping Co. S.A. were Rodolfo Silva Batista and Jose Ignacio de Sedas, each holding one share in the company. The president/director and vice-president/director were respectively Evangelos Pothitos and Dimitrios Kapsarachis. In a susbequent affidavit Miss Fairhurst corrected this information, having been told that the two alleged shareholders may only have had a right to become shareholders which, it appears, is sufficient for the purposes of the formation of a Panamanian company. Nothing turns on this.

  • (v) The "Evpo Agnic" is and was at all material times owned by Agnic Shipping S.A. of Panama.

  • (vi) The shareholders—or those having a right to become shareholders—in Agnic Shipping S.A. and that company's president/director and vice-president/director were the same individuals as was the case with Skipper Shipping Co. S.A.


Miss Fairhurst's conclusion was expressed in the following terms:

  • "(13) Thus, although prima facie the 'SKIPPER 1' and 'EVPO AGNIC' are owned by separate one ship-owning companies, it becomes clear on lifting the veil of incorporation that the shareholders in each of these companies are the same, and their President/Director and Vice President/ Director are also the same.

  • (14) In the circumstances it is my belief that the owners of the Vessel 'SKIPPER 1' were on the date of the issue of the Writ herein beneficial Owners as respects all shares in the Ship or Vessel 'EVPO AGNIC', and that it is clearly the case that the two separate companies which are the registered owners according to Lloyd's Records, are part of an arrangement which has the effect of covering up the true ownership of these Vessels. Such being the case I respectfully submit that the Court should lift the corporate veil in order to determine that the 'relevant person', who would be liable on an action in personam, is also the present beneficial owner of all shares in the 'EVPO AGNIC.'


The warrant was issued on 18th February 1988 and the "Evpo Agnic" arrested in caridff on the following day. It is only fair to say that if there was any doubt about whether Miss Fairhurst was alleging that the registered owners of the "Skipper I" were the beneficial owners of the "Evpo Agnic" or that both vessels were in the same beneficial ownership, which could, of course, be that of a third party, she made the latter allegation in a telex message to the defendants' solicitors immediately before the arrest.


On 23rd February 1988 Sheen J. heard an application by the defendants to set aside the writ and the warrant for arrest. In the light of the fact that the matter was very urgent, he gave his decision without reasons. That decision was to order the defendants to disclose all documents relating to the owner-ship of the vessels "Skipper I" and "Evpo Agnic" and to adjourn further consideration of the application to set aside the writ and warrant until after such disclosure. He also gave leave to appeal to this court.


Subsequently, with a view to assisting this court, Sheen J. sent the parties a note of his reasons. He recorded that Mr Meeson, counsel appearing for the defendants, had submitted that this was a simple case of two ships owned by different corporate entities which could not be sister ships. He then referred to his own decision in The Maritime Trader [1981] 2 Ll.L.R. 153 in which he had held that the only vessels which might be arrested in respect of a maritime claim were the particular ship in respect of which the claim arose and any other ship in the same ownership, and that a shareholder had no property, legal or equitable, in the assets of a company, adding that he did not wish to retract anything which he had said in that judgment.


He then referred to the judgment of Slynn J. in The Aventicum [1978] 1 Ll.L.R. 184, 187 and reviewed the evidence, including evidence relating to mortgages. It is not entirely clear what evidence he had as to mortgages and it may well be that he had all or some of the information given to this court in a further affidavit by Miss Fairhurst sworn after the hearing before him. This tended to show that a number of Panamanian vessels, including the "Skipper I" and the "Evpo Agnic", each of which had a different Panamanian company as the registered owner, were all managed as a fleet by Pothitos Shipping Co. S.A., also of Panama, but carrying on business in Greece, and that part of the money required to enable the fleet to be acquired or run was raised by something in the nature of a fleet loan secured by mortgages of individual vessels in the fleet, including the "Evpo Agnic", but not the "Skipper I".


Sheen J.'s conclusion was expressed in these terms:

"Mr. Hirst says that the totality of the evidence shows that there is good...

To continue reading

Request your trial
39 cases
5 books & journal articles
  • The Protection Of Seafarers' Wages In Admiralty: A Critical Analysis In The Context Of Modern Shipping
    • Australia
    • Australian and New Zealand Maritime Law Journal No. 22-2, October 2008
    • 1 October 2008
    ...Company: The legal consequences from its use and the protection of its creditors (Ant N Sakkoulas, Athens, 2000) 97. 306 The Evpo Agnic [1988] 1 WLR 1090. 307 See eg: Salomon v Salomon [1897] AC 22, 47-54; the Companies Act 1993 (NZ), sections 15 and 97(1). (2008) 22 A&NZ Mar LJ The Protect......
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 1994, December 1994
    • 1 December 1994
    ...made by summons-in-chambers. See “The Saudi Al Jubail” ibid., “The Andres Bonifacio”[1993] 3 S.L.R. 521 and “The Evpo Agnic”[1988] 1 W.L.R. 1090. 64 These are the words used by Lord Donaldson of Lymington M.R. in “The Evpo Agnic”[1988] 1 W.L.R. 1090 at 1097. 65 See also section 108 of the E......
  • Recent Admiralty Decisions in Hong Kong - Are the Courts Ready to Deviate From Their English Predecessors?
    • Australia
    • Australian and New Zealand Maritime Law Journal No. 30-1, June 2016
    • 1 June 2016
    ...India (Ministry of Defence) v India Steamship Co. Ltd ( The ‘Indian Grace (No.2)’) [1998] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 1. 6 [2015] 3 HKLRD 598. 7 [1988] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 411. (2016) 30 ANZ Mar LJ 134 2 Casting Doubts On The Indian Grace (No.2) As mentioned, this part deals with the case of The Alas . A fulle......
  • Admiralty, Shipping and Aviation Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2010, December 2010
    • 1 December 2010
    ...or in control’ include a demise charterer (see The Span Terza [1872] 1 Lloyd“s Rep 225); a salvor in possession (see The Evpo Agnic [1988] 1 WLR 1090); a purchaser under a conditional sale agreement (see The Permina 3001 [1977-1978] SLR(R) 1); and a person in the position of a demise charte......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT