Futuristic yacht leaves Gibraltar after arrest is lifted
The futuristic yacht at the centre of a €15.3m legal wrangle has been freed from admiralty arrest and sailed from Gibraltar early this morning.
Sailing Yacht A weighed anchor at around 8.30am and sailed from the Bay of Gibraltar in rough seas bound for the Mediterranean.
The vessel will head to the Navantia shipyard in Cartagena, where it will undergo further sea trials as the internal fit-out continues before final delivery to its owner in late spring.
Sailing Yacht A was arrested last Wednesday over an admiralty claim filed by German shipbuilder Nobiskrug against Valla Yachts Limited, the vessel’s Bermuda-registered owner.
It was freed nearly a week later after lawyers for both parties agreed the terms of a financial security pending resolution of the admiralty claim and other matters that are under arbitration in London.
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.
This week the Supreme Court in Gibraltar heard that Valla Yachts had previously paid the €9.8m into an Escrow account in London under the terms of the shipbuilding contract, a sum that is the subject of arbitration.
The owner says there are a number of “outstanding items” that need to be resolved, something the German yard disputes.
Valla Yachts argued in court that the money in Escrow was sufficient security for the vessel to be released in Gibraltar pending the final outcome of arbitration proceedings in London.
But Nobiskrug wanted the security to come under the jurisdiction of the Gibraltar court and argued the money in Escrow in London did not satisfy that purpose.
“We want security in these proceedings,” the yard’s lawyer, Guy Stagnetto, QC, told the court on Tuesday.
Chief Justice Anthony Dudley, who was hearing the case, made clear that he would not countenance “double-security”, meaning the payment of an additional €9.8m in Gibraltar as well as the sum in London.
That left lawyers for each party – and for Escrow agent Hill Dickinson - to find a way of either transferring the €9.8m to Gibraltar or ensuring the Gibraltar court had jurisdiction over the funds in respect of the admiralty arrest.
In the end, the €9.8m will remain in London subject to an undertaking to the Gibraltar court agreed by both parties.
The balance of the sum being claimed in the arrest – along with a further €3.5m in interest and costs – will be deposited with a Gibraltar law firm pending final resolution of the case.
Anne Rose, the lawyer representing Valla Yachts, reserved her client’s rights in respect of any costs arising from delays linked to the arrest.
The hearing came to a close at 12.30pm yesterday and by 4pm, the court paperwork had been completed and the vessel released.
Just after 4pm, two ship wardens who were on board Sailing Yacht A on instructions from Gibraltar’s Admiralty Marshall, Liam Yeats, left the vessel and handed it back to the crew.
"This unfortunate incident concerning Sailing Yacht A is now resolved as expected by us," said a spokesman for the owner.
"We are very pleased the Court listened to our arguments and ruled accordingly."
The German yard also expressed satisfaction that the issue of financial security for the claim had been resolved.
“Nobiskrug is very content with the court’s decision,” a spokesperson said.
“The court has followed our line of argument and has taken full account of our security interest.”
Photos by Donovan Torres