Shipowners and charterers who bought bunker fuel from OW Bunker’s Singapore subsidiary Dynamic Oil Trading may face the risk of paying the physical fuel oil supplier twice.
On 21 July 2015 the Singapore Court rejected the application for interpleader relief.
OW Bunker, a Danish bunker trader, went bankrupt after incurring a USD125 million loss in November 2014.
In this case, the shipowners and charterers wanted to be discharged from being liable for an additional payment to the physical bunker supplier, as they had paid their contractual supplier.
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The physical supplier, who was not identified, had written to them and demanded payment for the bunkers.
The purchasers therefore requested to deposit the money with the court and leave the physical and contractual suppliers to dispute over who was entitled to the funds.
However, Justice Steven Chong determined that the physical suppliers had not established a prima facie claim to the funds and that, accordingly, there were no competing claims for payment of the bunkers.
Law firm Clyde & Co said, “Accordingly, the purchasers are left in the same position they were and arguably face a risk of having to pay twice. However, purchasers will surely take comfort from the Singapore Court’s finding that the physical suppliers could not establish a prima facie claim, which must surely reduce the risk of any action being taken by them.”