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Admiralty Jurisdiction and Beneficial Ownership – Some Unanswered Questions: The Min Rui [2016] 5 SLR 667

Senthil Sabapathy

(2017) 29 SAcLJ 552

The recent decision of the High Court in The Min Rui brought into focus the approach to be taken when determining the beneficial ownership of a vessel for the purpose of establishing the admiralty jurisdiction of the court. The case raised two interesting questions. First, in an interlocutory jurisdictional challenge, what is the standard of proof to be applied in determining whether the defendant was the beneficial owner of the vessel at the time the action was brought? Second, in this context, what law governs the issue of beneficial ownership? While the High Court did not conclusively deal with these questions, its decision does point towards what the possible answers might be.