A Singapore-based bunker supplier’s bid to get Malaysian shipping company, Malaysia International Shipping Corporation (MISC) to pay for fuel oil supplied through a third party has been dismissed by the Singapore High Court.
Equatorial Marine Fuel Management Services sought USD21.7 million from MISC for 198,000 tonnes of fuel oil that it delivered to MISC vessels between June 2006 and 2008 via bunker supply contracts brokered through Compass Marine and OceanConnect, both London-based bunker broking companies.
The London-based companies were counterparties to Equatorial and Market Asia Link (MAL), a Malaysian ship spare parts supplier that was approved by MISC as its bunker supplier.
Until the end of 2008, MISC purchased bunkers from MAL many times, and it did not have direct dealings with Compass Marine and OceanConnect.
Equatorial was claiming for bunkers supplied to MISC via three bunker supply contracts inked with MAL.
But MISC argued that it was not a party to those contracts and that Equatorial should go after MAL for the money, a point that Justice Judith Prakash agreed with.
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Justice Prakash wrote in her judgement, “Equatorial’s submissions in respect of the Inference Argument focus on MISC’s approval of MAL as a registered bunker vendor, the manner in which the bunker contracts were awarded by MISC to MAL, the manner in which the bunker contracts were performed, and the underlying relationship between MISC and MAL.”
In this case, Justice Prakash determined that Equatorial had failed to show any link between MAL and MISC such that the latter was liable to pay for the bunkers.
The suit proceeded after Singapore’s Court of Appeal in 2012 overturned a previous application by MISC to have the suit struck out on the basis that Equatorial’s claim was unsustainable.