Futuristic yacht ‘ain’t going anywhere’ pending arrest resolution, court hears
The futuristic yacht at the centre of a multi-million Euro legal wrangle remains arrested in Gibraltar after lawyers were yesterday unable to agree the terms of a financial security for its release.
Sailing Yacht A was arrested last week over a €15.3m admiralty claim filed by German shipbuilder Nobiskrug against Valla Yachts Limited, the vessel’s Bermuda-registered owner.
Anne Rose, the lawyer representing Valla Yachts, said the owner hoped to have the vessel released from admiralty arrest “as soon as possible” so that it could continue its sea trials.
The brand new vessel was arrested when it stopped in Gibraltar last Wednesday for what should have been a short refuelling stop before sailing to a Spanish yard to undergo additional work.
But Nobiskrug’s lawyer, Guy Stagnetto, QC, told the Supreme Court yesterday that the German yard was seeking a financial security before the yacht could be released.
The parties have so far been unable to agree terms for that security and Chief Justice Anthony Dudley said the matter could not be rushed. In the meantime, Sailing Yacht A must remain anchored in the Bay of Gibraltar.
“She ain’t going anywhere, not swiftly,” Mr Justice Dudley said.
“I’m not going to be pushed around just because it’s a big yacht.”
“I don't care if it’s a big yacht or a 20-foot pleasure boat. It takes the time it takes.”
Sailing Yacht A is described by Nobiskrug as “the most advanced, sail-assisted superyacht ever built”.
It measures almost 143 metres in length, with a gross tonnage of 12,600 and a mainmast that towers 100m above the waterline, taller than Big Ben.
Although the cost of the vessel has not been officially confirmed, it is reported to be as much as €450m.
Nobiskrug claims the final €9.8m payment of a shipbuilding contract between the yard and Valla Yachts was due on January 27 but has not been paid.
Nobiskrug is also claiming sums of €2.6m and €2.9m which, according to court documents, are already the subject of arbitration proceedings between the yard and Valla Yachts over liability for sub-contractor invoices and disputed variation orders during the building process.
The total sum sought by Nobiskrug amounts to €15,298,297.05 [£12,748,581], plus interest and costs of €4.7m.
The court heard yesterday that Valla Yachts had previously paid the €9.8m into an Escrow account in London under the terms of the shipbuilding contract.
The owner says there are a number of “outstanding items” that need to be resolved, something the yard disputes.
Valla Yachts argues that the money in Escrow should provide sufficient security for the vessel to be released in Gibraltar pending the final outcome of arbitration proceedings in London.
But Nobiskrug wants the security to come under the jurisdiction of the Gibraltar court.
Yesterday the lawyers told the court they would try to agree terms acceptable to both parties, failing which the judge himself must decide how to proceed.
The case was adjourned until 10am this morning.
A spokesman for Valla Yachts said the owner was confident the issue would be resolved soon.
A spokesperson for Nobiskrug said the yard was unable to comment due to ongoing legal proceedings and confidentiality.