THE ADMIRALTY COURT ACT, 2000
(Act No. 43 of 2000)
An Act to repeal and re-enact the laws relating to Admiralty Jurisdiction.
Whereas it is expedient to repeal and re-enact the laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction;
It is hereby enacted as follows:-
1. Short title: This Act may be called the Admiralty Court Act, 2000.
2. Definitions: In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,-
(a) “Inland waters” includes any part of the sea adjacent to the coast of Bangladesh as may be notified by the Government to be waters falling by international law to be within the territorial sovereignty of Bangladesh apart from the part of the sea under international law relating to territorial waters;
(b) “Ship” means and includes any description of vessel used in navigation;
(c) “Goods” means and includes baggage;
(d) “Republic” means the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;
(e) “Port” means any port, harbour, river, estuary, haven, dock, canal or other such place where a person or body of persons is to collect charges having been empowered by or under any law;
(f) “Port Limit” means the limits of ports as fixed by or under law;
(g) “Aircraft” means any craft which can drive support in the atmosphere from reactions of the air, and includes balloons, whether captive or free, airships, kites, gilders and flying machines;
(h) “Master” means any person except a pilot or harbour master having the charge or control of a ship;
(i) “Territorial Waters” means the limits of sea beyond the land territory as is declared by the Government from time to time and the outer internal water measured from the baseline;
(j) “Supreme Court” means the Supreme Court of Bangladesh established by Article 94 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;
(k) “High Court Division” means the High Court Division of the Supreme Court;
(l) “Chief Justice” means the Chief Justice of Bangladesh.
3. Admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court Division: (1) The High Court Division shall be a Court of Admiralty.
(2) The Admiralty Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any of the following questions or claims:
(a) any claim to the possession or ownership of a ship or to the ownership of any share therein or for recovery of documents of title and ownership of a ship, including registration certificate, log book and such certificates as may be necessary for the operation or navigation of the ship;
(b) any question arising between the co-owners of a ship as to possession, employment or income of that ship;
(c) any claim in respect of a mortgage of or charge on a ship or any share therein;
(d) any claim for damage done by a ship;
(e) any claim for damage received by a ship;
(f) any claim for loss of life or personal injury sustained in consequence of any defect in a ship or in her apparel or equipment, or of the wrongful act, neglect or default of the owners, charterer or persons in possession or control of a ship or of the master or crew thereof or any other persons for whose wrongful acts, neglects or defaults the owners, charterers or persons in possession or control of ship are responsible, being an act, neglect or default in the navigation or management of the ship, in the loading, carriage or discharge of goods on, in or from the ship or in the embarkation, carriage or disembarkation of persons on, in or from the ship;
(g) any claim for loss of or damage to goods carried in a ship;
(h) any claim arising out of any agreement relating to the carriage of goods in a ship or to the use or hire of a ship;
(i) any claim in the nature of salvage of life from a ship or cargo or any property on board a ship or the ship itself or its apparel, whether services were rendered on the high sea or within territorial waters or inland waters or in a port, including any claim arising by virtue of the application by or under section 12 of the Civil Aviation Ordinance, 1960, (Ordinance XXXII of 1960) of the law relation to salvage to aircraft and their apparel and cargo;
(j) any claim in respect of towage of a ship or an aircraft;
(k) any claim in respect of pilotage of a ship or an aircraft;
(l) any claim in respect of goods or materials supplied to a ship for her operation or maintenance;
(m)any claim in respect of construction, repair or equipment of a ship or dock charges or dues;
(n) any claim for wages by a master or member of the crew of a ship or any claim for any money or property recoverable as wages of master or member of the crew under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance, 1983, hereinafter referred to as the Ordinance, or in the Court;
(o) any claim for disbursements made on account of or for the purpose of a ship by the Master, shipper, charterer or agent of the ship;
(p) any claim arising out of an act which is or is claimed to be a general average act;
(q) any claim arising out of bottomry or respondentia;
(r) any claim for forfeiture or condemnation of a ship or of goods which are being or have been carried, or have been attempted to be carried, or for the restoration of a ship or any such goods after seizure, or for droits of admiralty together with any other jurisdiction to grant reliefs as are provided under the provisions of the said Ordinance or any other jurisdiction which was vested in the High Court Division as a Court of Admiralty immediately before the commencement of this Act and any other jurisdiction as to any matter in connection with ships or aircraft which has by custom been exercised by the High Court Division as a Court of Admiralty.
(3) The jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty in case of a ship, under Sub-Section (2)(b) includes power to settle any account outstanding and unsettled between the parties in relation to the ship, and to direct that the ship, or any share thereof, shall be sold, and to make such other order as the Court thinks fit.
(4) The reference in sub-section (2)(i) to claim in the nature of salvage includes a reference to such claims for services rendered in saving life from a ship or an aircraft of in preserving cargo, apparel or wreck as, under any law for the time being in force, are authorized to be made in connection with a ship or an aircraft.
(5) The preceding provisions of this section shall apply-
(a) in relation to all ship or aircraft, whether Bangladeshi or not and whether registered or not and wherever the residence or domicile of their owners may be;
(b) in relation to all claims, irrespective of the plaice of claim, claims relating to salvage or cargo or wreck or cargo or wreck found on the ground; and
(c) in relation to mortgage and charge, to all legal and equitable mortgages or charges, including mortgages and charges created under foreign law whether registered or not:
Provided that, nothing in this sub section shall be deemed to be applicable to money or property recoverable under the said Ordinance.
4. Mode of exercise of Admiralty Jurisdiction of the High Court Division as the Court of Admiralty: (1) Subject to the provisions of section 5, the admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court Division may in all cases be exercised in personam.
(2) In relation to claims mentioned in clauses (a) to (c) and (r) of sub section 2 of section 3 the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the High Court Division as the Court of Admiralty may be exercised through action in rem against the ship or property in question.
(3) When the amount claimed relates to any ship, aircraft or any other property over which there is a maritime lien or other charge, the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the High Court Division as the Court of Admiralty may be exercised through an action in rem against that ship, aircraft or property.
(4) In relation to the claims mentioned in clauses (d) to (q) of sub section 2 of section 3, relating to any ship, the person who would be liable for the claim in an action in personam was, when the cause of action arose, as the owner or charterer of, or person in possession or in control of, the ship, whether the claim gives rise to a maritime lien on the ship or not, an action in rem can be brought in the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the High Court Division as the Court of Admiralty against the following ships, namely-
(a) if at the time when action is brought, the person has beneficial ownership over all the shares of the ship; or
(b) if at the time when action is brought, any other ship is under the beneficial ownership of the said person.
(5) In the case of claim for fee for towage or pilotage of any aircraft the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the High Court Division as the Court of Admiralty may be invoked by an action in rem against the aircraft if at the time when the action is brought it is beneficially owned by the person who would be liable for the claim in an action in personam.
(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding clauses of the section, an action in rem shall not be brought in the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the High Court Division as the Court of Admiralty for any claim mentioned in clause (n) of sub section (2) of section 3 unless the claim relates wholly or partly to wages.
(7) When the High Court Division exercising its jurisdiction as the Court of Admiralty orders any ship, aircraft or any other property to be sold, the said Division exercising the same jurisdiction can hear and determine any question as to the priority of title or claim in the proceeds of sale.
(8) For the purpose of sub sections (4) and (5) to determine as to whether a person would be liable in an action in personam it shall be assumed that the said person ordinarily resides in Bangladesh or his place of business is situated in Bangladesh
5. In personam jurisdiction of the Court in case of collision and other similar cases: (1) No court in Bangladesh shall entertain an action in personam to enforce any claim to which this section applies, unless-
(a) the ordinary residence or place of business of the Defendant is in Bangladesh; or
(b) the cause of action arises in the inland or territorial waters of Bangladesh or within the limits of a port of Bangladesh; or
(c) any action arising out of same incident or series of incidents is pending in the said court or the suit has been decided after hearing.
(2) No court in Bangladesh shall entertain any action in personam to enforce a claim to which this section applies, unless any action previously brought by the plaintiff in any court outside Bangladesh against the same defendant and in respect of the same incident or series of incidents has been withdrawn or otherwise disposed of.
(3) the preceding provisions of this section as applicable to action in personam shall apply to counterclaims not being counterclaims in proceedings arising out of the same incident or series of incidents, but the plaintiff and the defendant shall mean, respectively, the plaintiff and the defendant of the counterclaim.
(4) The preceding provisions of this section shall not apply to any suit or counterclaim if the defendant of the suit or counterclaim accepts or agrees to accept the jurisdiction of the court.
(5) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), the High Court Division as the Court of Admiralty shall have jurisdiction to entertain an action in personam to enforce all claims to which this section applies when any of the conditions specified in sub-section (1) is satisfied.
(6) This section shall apply to claims for damage, loss of life or personal injury arising out of a collision between ships or the carrying out of or omission to carry out a manoevure in the case of one or more ships or non compliance, on the part of one or more ships, with the regulations made under the said Ordinance.
6. Suit to be instituted by plaint: A suit shall be instituted in the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the High Court Division as the Court of Admiralty by a plain framed, signed and verified according to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 (Act V of 1908), but in the case of action in rem the defendant may, subject to such variation as the circumstances may require, be described as “the owners and parties interested in” instead of the name of the ship or other property against which the suit is brought.
7. Court Fees: (1) Subject to the provisions of sub section (2) of this section, the provisions of the Court Fees Act, 1870 (Act VII of 1870) shall apply mutatis mutandis to all kinds of action in rem or action in personam suits or claims, brought in the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the High Court Division:
Provided that, notwithstanding any contrary provision in the Court Fees Act, 1870 (Act VII of 1870), in the case of all claims except the claim mentioned in clause (n) of sub section (2) of section 3 of this Act the maximum Court fees shall be not more than taka 1,00,000 (one lac) and in the case of claim under clause (n) Court fees of taka 100 (one hundred) shall be given.
8. Suit to be admitted, heard and disposed of by a Bench of Single Judge: Every suit under this Act shall be brought before, heard and disposed of by a Bench of Single Judge of the High Court Division in its Admiralty jurisdiction:
Provided that, the Chief Justice may constitute a Bench of two or more judges to hear and dispose of any suit under this Act.
9. Indemnity: Nothing in this Act shall give any right to bring an action in rem for any claim against the Republic or to arrest, detain or sale any ship or aircraft of the Army, Navy, Air force of the Republic, Bangladesh Rifles, Bangladesh Police or Coast Guard.
10. Publication of text translated in English: After coming into force of this Act, the Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, publish an authentic text of this Act translated in English, which shall be called as the Authentic English Text of this Act.
Provided that, in the event of any conflict between this Act and the English text, this Act shall prevail.
11. Power to make Rules: The Supreme Court may, with the prior approval of the President and by publication in the Official Gazette make rules for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this Act.
Provided that, until rules are framed under this section, the rules existing immediately before this Act coming into force, shall be in force subject to being in conformity with the provisions of this Act.
12. Repeals and saving: (1) The Courts of Admiralty Act, 1891 (XVI of 1891) is hereby repealed and the applicability of the Admiralty Court Act, 1840 (3 & 4. Vict. c. 65), the Admiralty Court Act, 1861 (24 & 25 Vict, c. 10) shall be deemed to have been repealed in respect of the Republic.
(2) Notwithstanding the repeal or deeming to have been repealed of the laws under Sub Section (1), as the case may be, the suits instituted under the repealed laws which were awaiting disposal on the date of such repeal or deeming to have been repealed shall remain pending, as if no provision were made repealing or deeming to have been repealed such laws.