Second Reading Speech by Senior Minister of State for Law, Mr Edwin Tong, on the High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill
26 May 2020 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Mr. Deputy Speaker,
- On behalf of the Minister for Law, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a Second time.”
- Sir, this Bill complements Singapore’s upcoming accession to the International Convention on Salvage 1989, or the Salvage Convention.
(a) The Merchant Shipping (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act was passed last year, to implement the Salvage Convention. To-date, 72 countries have ratified the Convention.
(b) A key aspect of the Convention is the introduction of special compensation. These are compensation for claims arising from salvage operations.
(c) Special compensation claims allow a salvor to be compensated for salvage operations to prevent or minimise environmental damage, even if the salvor did not save the vessel or its cargo. This differs from traditional salvage claims dealt with under an earlier convention adopted in Brussels in 1910, where salvors are only awarded if the salvage of the vessel or its cargo was successful.
(d) This Bill expands the High Court’s admiralty jurisdiction to cover special compensation claims that arise under the Salvage Convention, or by way of contract. Currently, the High Court’s admiralty jurisdiction covers only traditional salvage claims.
- By placing special compensation claims on the same footing as traditional salvage claims, this Bill:
(a) further incentivises salvors to protect the environment; and
(b) also keeps Singapore abreast with other signatories to the Salvage Convention, including the UK and Hong Kong, who have also made similar amendments to their own admiralty jurisdiction.
Key Provisions of the Bill
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is a short Bill, and I will highlight the key amendments very quickly.
- Clause 2 amends the current section 3(1)(i) of the Act, which relates to salvage claims.
(a) Clause 2 provides that the High Court’s admiralty jurisdiction includes any claim arising under the Salvage Convention. This includes Article 14 of the Salvage Convention, which provides for special compensation.
(b) It also provides that the High Court’s admiralty jurisdiction covers contractual claims relating to salvage services. This includes contractual clauses that provide for special compensation, such as the Special Compensation Protection and Indemnity clause.
(c) Finally, it provides that the High Court’s admiralty jurisdiction covers any other claim in the nature of salvage. This ensures that all salvage claims previously covered by admiralty jurisdiction continue to be covered.
(d) Clause 2 also preserves the principle that there is parity in treatment of claims arising from salvage operations in respect of both ships and aircraft.
- Clause 3 of the Bill repeals section 176 of the Merchant Shipping Act, which provides that the High Court has jurisdiction to decide all claims relating to salvage. This provision is a historical anachronism, and is unnecessary. The High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act already provides for admiralty jurisdiction over salvage-related claims, and it should be the single piece of legislation dealing with this issue.
- Sir, this Bill updates our maritime legal framework to be in line with international practice, and will pave the way for Singapore’s accession to the Salvage Convention.
- With that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I beg to move.
Last updated on 26 May 2020