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What are admiralty proceedings

In Singapore, admiralty law deals with certain claims against ships, shipowners or ship charterers that fall under the admiralty jurisdiction of the General Division of the High Court.

Refer to Section 3 of the High Court (Admiralty Jurisdiction) Act for more information.

Some examples of admiralty cases that the General Division of the High Court can hear include:

  • Claims to the possession or ownership of a ship.
  • Claims for damage done by a ship.
  • Claims for damage received by a ship.
  • Claims for loss of or damage to goods carried in a ship.
  • Claims in respect of a mortgage or charge on a ship.
  • Claims arising out of any agreement relating to the carriage of goods in a ship.
  • Claims in respect of goods or materials supplied to a ship for her operation or maintenance.
  • Claims by a master or crew member for wages.

Admiralty proceedings can be against one or both of the following types of parties:

  • A ship: This is known as an action in rem.
  • A person or company who owns or has demise chartered the ship in question: This is known as an action in personam.

Who is involved

If you file the claim, you are the plaintiff.

If you are the party against whom the claim is filed, you are the defendant. A ship can be a defendant in admiralty proceedings.

Most parties in admiralty proceedings are represented by a lawyer. You must be represented by a lawyer if you are representing a company.

If your case includes arresting a ship, it will also involve:

  • The Sheriff: The person who may be ordered to arrest a ship and keep it in custody as security for the plaintiff’s claim. Find out more about the arrest of ships.
  • Bailiffs: Officers from the Sheriff's Office who carry out Writs of Execution and court orders.

Start an admiralty action: file and serve a Writ

As the plaintiff, you need to file a Writ of Summons via eLitigation and serve it on the defendant to start a claim. The form you should use depends on who you are filing against:

If you are filing against...

Form to use

A person (in personam)

Writ of Summons (Form 2 of the Rules of Court)

A ship or vessel (in rem)

Writ of Summons in action in rem (Form 159 of the Rules of Court)


Note: Although an in rem Writ may be issued when the ship is out of jurisdiction (outside Singapore), the Writ can only be served on the ship when the ship is within Singapore port limits.

The Writ will be valid for 12 months. To renew a Writ, you may file a summons.

After the Writ: pre-trial conference

The court will arrange for you and the other party to attend a pre-trial conference (PTC). This will usually be within 6 weeks after the Writ is issued.

At the PTC, a registrar will usually seek an update on the status of an action. The registrar will then give the parties directions to progress with the action in a quick and fair way. For example, the registrar may direct parties to file interlocutory applications within a certain timeline.

If you wish to arrest a ship

If you are applying to arrest a ship, you will need to file additional documents and apply for a warrant of arrest.

You will be known as the arresting party and will need to appoint the following:

  • Lawyers to assist in carrying out the arrest of the ship.
  • (Unless there is a waiver by the Sheriff or the court) A security agency from the Sheriff's panel to deploy a security guard on board the ship when the ship is arrested.

Note: Refer to the Admiralty court guide for the detailed requirements and process.

After the ship has been arrested, the court may order the Sheriff to sell the ship. Find out more about the arrest and sale of ships.

Estimated fees

Refer to Appendix B of the Rules of Court for the fees related to admiralty proceedings.

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more


Related questions

If you are not represented by a lawyer, you may:

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