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Case details

Argentum Exploration Ltd (Respondent) v Republic of South Africa (Appellant)

Case ID: 2022/0162

Case summary


Whether the silver and the ship carrying it fell within the following provision of the State Immunity Act 1978 s.10(4)(a): "both the cargo and the ship carrying it were, at the time when the cause of action arose, in use or intended for use for commercial purposes" such that the Republic of South Africa is not immune to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom in respect of Argentum's salvage claim.


This Appeal arises out of the salvage of a cargo of 2364 bars of silver from the wreck of the SS TILAWA, a merchant vessel which was sunk in the Indian Ocean on 23rd November 1942. The silver is, and was at all material times, owned by the Government of the Republic of South Africa ("RSA"). The majority of the silver was intended to be used for the production of coinage for the Union of South Africa. Argentum Exploration Ltd. ("Argentum") claims to have salved the silver in 2017. RSA has applied to strike out Agentum's claim for salvage, on the basis that RSA is immune from the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom under the State Immunity Act 1978.

Judgment appealed

[2022] EWCA Civ 1318



Republic of South Africa


Argentum Exploration Ltd



Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lord Hamblen, Lord Leggatt, Lord Richards

Hearing start date

28 November 2023

Hearing finish date

29 November 2023