A claim for payment under a demand guarantee that guarantees payment of clearing and forwarding fees is a maritime claim in terms of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Regulation Act. This is so because it is a claim for payment “arising out of or relating to the remuneration of a forwarding agent”. Therefore the Gauteng High Court did not have jurisdiction to hear a dispute over the guarantee because it was an “inland court”. Courts with an area of jurisdiction that is not adjacent to the territorial waters of South Africa only have admiralty jurisdiction under the Act over limited types of maritime claims which do not include claims relating to the remuneration of a forwarding agent.
The court considered both the ordinary grammatical meaning and the apparent intention of the legislature to cast the proverbial wide net to ensure that all issues that are connected with admiralty issues are decided by the coastal courts that have admiralty jurisdiction.
The case is Kuehne & Nagel (Pty) Ltd v Moncada Energy Group SRL.