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Stephen Hofmeyr QC features in the The Lawyer’s Top 10 Appeals of 2022

21st Jan 2022

Stephen Hofmeyr QC features in the The Lawyer’s Top 10 Appeals of 2022.


Argentum Exploration Ltd v The Silver and all persons claiming to be interested in the Rights of Silver – THE TILAWA

Court of Appeal  15-17 March 2022

Over two thousand bars of silver from WWII will be back in court this year after the High Court sided with Argentum Exploration and ruled that the Republic of South Africa was required to pay costs it had incurred in salvaging 2,364 silver bars in which the country had an ownership interest.

In 2017, the company salvaged 2,364 silver bars from the wreck of the SS TILAWA, which was torpedoed in the Indian Ocean in 1942. Argentum declared the silver bars, the value of which is estimated at around $43m, to the UK Receiver of Wreck pursuant to the UK Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

The vessel was a UK registered merchant vessel and was carrying paying passengers and sank in 3,500m of water. The vessel was insured under the UK War Risk scheme. The cargo was uninsured.

However, the Republic of South Africa subsequently claimed ownership of the silver bars. It claimed immunity pursuant to the State Immunity Act 1978 and issued an application notice seeking an order that the company’s action be struck out or stayed on state immunity grounds. The court did not agree with RSA argument.

For the respondent, Argentum Exploration Ltd

7KBW’sStephen Hofmeyr QC and 3VB’s Liisa Lathi, instructed by Tatham & Co partner Stephen Askins.