Seow Zhixiang is an officer in the Singapore Legal Service. The views here are his own.
The High Court of Singapore has recently delivered its grounds of decision in a case which considers the impact of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran in an admiralty context. The Sahand  SGHC 27 (available at Singapore Law Watch) involved three merchant vessels – the Sahand, the Tuchal and the Sabalan – which were owned by German companies and arrested in Singapore waters. The German companies were wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), the state shipping line of Iran. Certain IRISL entities are subject to the asset freeze imposed by the UNSC on Iranian entities, and the Sahand case illustrates the difficulties that may arise in interpreting the broad language of the relevant resolutions for the purposes of applying them to specific cases, and in identifying links to expressly sanctioned entities. The case also gives an idea of the disruptive effect that sanctions may have on commercial activities, both by a sanctioned entity and those dealing with it. These points are not only relevant to the UNSC resolutions on Iran, but also to other similarly worded sanctions.