In a recent Court of Appeal case, the appellant terminal operators challenged the Nigerian Shippers' Council's powers to review local storage charges unilaterally. The judgment gives further judicial impetus to the government's policy intent, particularly with regard to storage operations at the nation's ports. However, it conflicts with an earlier decision by the same court concerning the Nigerian Shippers' Council's role as the economic regulator of the Nigerian ports.
The Department of Merchant Shipping recently issued an updated list of countries whose certificates of competency are recognised by Cyprus under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, as amended. The only change from the previous list, issued in November 2014, is the addition of Jordan.
The Department of Merchant Shipping has announced that it will be a deputy ministry with effect from March 1 2018 and be renamed the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, following the entry into force of the Establishment of a Deputy Ministry of Shipping and Appointment of a Deputy Minister of Shipping and for Matters Connected Therewith Law 2017. As successor to the Department of Merchant Shipping, the deputy ministry will assume all of the former's rights, responsibilities, powers and obligations.
One of the final pieces of legislation that the government enacted before the March 2018 general election was the eagerly awaited reform of the so-called 'Nautical Code'. The changes include a new definition of 'superyachts', the introduction of an electronic registration system for yachts and superyachts, a streamlined cancellation procedure for the Italian yacht registry and restrictions to the occasional chartering regime.
On January 18 2018, despite severe weather warnings, numerous haulage companies allowed their trucks to take to the roads. As a result, many trucks were blown over, leading to extensive amounts of damage. However, any reliance by road carriers on force majeure for events arising from the storms will be hard to enforce in the Dutch courts. While it is not unthinkable that such a situation might exist, the numerous weather forecasts and code red warnings will have created a heavier burden for carriers.
Under the new Regulation 693-E/2017, the system for checking the cargo-worthiness of holds and tanks of ships and barges for the export of grains and their products and by-products will be compulsorily applied to all ships. In terms of compliance, ships that meet industrial standards should face no major issues and any attempt from surveyors or inspectors to reject such a ship could be challenged.
A limitation fund was recently constituted in the context of a salvage and towage operation. The plaintiffs opposed the fund's constitution, arguing that, under Chilean law, salvors are not entitled to limit their liability. The Valparaiso Second Civil Court rejected the opposition and upheld the limitation fund. The decision is one of the most relevant substantive decisions in this regard and should provide future certainty in the safeguarding salvors' rights to limit their liability.
Article 47A of the Merchant Shipping (Issue and Recognition of Certificates and Marine Training) Laws provides that crew members on-board coastal passenger vessels who have safety duties relating to passengers must meet the mandatory minimum familiarisation and basic safety training and instruction requirements for all seafarers under Regulation VI/I of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.
The Supreme Court recently decided a case on appeal from the Maritime and Commercial Court concerning whether the latter had jurisdiction to hear proceedings that a Danish seller had brought against a Dutch terminal and a Danish carrier following a lost food consignment pursuant to Article 8(1) of the Brussels I Regulation. The Supreme Court reversed the Maritime and Commercial Court's decision and found that the conditions for applying Article 8(1) had been fulfilled.
The recent promulgation of the International Arbitration Act gave the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration the force of law in South Africa. Given the cross-border nature of shipping disputes, the act promises to enhance the attraction of what is already a litigation-friendly jurisdiction.
The Ninth Circuit recently held that punitive damages are available to seafarers who sustain injuries from unseaworthy conditions under the general maritime law. In doing so, it rejected a previous Fifth Circuit decision. The decision appears to suggest that if an owner knows of the unseaworthiness but does nothing, it is immune from punitive damages; yet, if an owner knows nothing, it may still be subject to punitive damages if the unseaworthy condition is sufficiently egregious in the opinion of the court.
A recent Maritime and Commercial Court case concerned liability for damage to a container transported from Denmark to the United States. The bill of lading included a network liability clause which limited liability to $500 per package when damage or loss occurred during sea carriage or where the damage occurred could not be localised. The court found that the damages had been caused during the land transport leg in the United States and therefore the carrier's liability could not be limited.
The National Agency for Waterway Transportation recently published Normative Resolution 18, regulating the rights and duties of users, intermediary agents and companies operating in offshore and port support, cabotage and deep-sea navigation and establishing administrative infractions. The normative has ultimately introduced innovations into this field – for example, regarding the regulation of intermediary agents and refusals to provide maritime transport services.
While delay can be expensive for a shipowner which suffers loss where a charterer delays the loading and discharge operation, a charterer should not be made to pay demurrage for such delay where it can be proven that it was not at fault. It is imperative to ensure that, before executing the contract of carriage, both parties are clear on the laytime and clauses regarding where a charterer is relieved of its obligation to pay demurrage.
The Department of Merchant Shipping recently issued a reminder to registered owners, bareboat charterers, managers and representatives of Cyprus-flagged ships regarding the renewal of civil liability certificates. The expiry date for most existing certificates is February 20 2018 and there has been an unprecedented delay in the submission of renewal applications. The department therefore urges parties that require a renewal to apply without further delay.
Fairway dues have been a much-discussed issue in Finland for years. The controversy began in 2000 when the Finnish authorities began suspecting that ships which regularly entered and departed Finnish waters did not fully comply with the technical requirements for vessels of the relevant ice class. The authorities subsequently began collecting fairway dues retroactively. This led shipping companies and their agents to file hundreds of appeals in the administrative courts.
When a sea carrier files for insolvency in the course of a sea carriage, considerable additional costs and expenses occur in the effort to deliver the cargo to the consignee. German law applies if a German freight forwarder is instructed with a multimodal carriage including a sea leg. This results in the general legal obligation for the forwarder to conduct the transport itself or with subcontractors in order to deliver the cargo to its destination for the fixed freight agreed.
The Department of Merchant Shipping recently issued a notification to owners, bareboat charterers, managers and representatives of Cyprus-flagged and foreign-flagged vessels visiting ports in Cyprus. The amendments concern the mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualification of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on passenger ships and masters and deck officers on ships operating in polar waters.
The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently jettisoned the six-factor, fact-intensive Davis & Sons test for maritime contracts in favour of a "simpler, more straightforward test consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Kirby". The decision will affect contractual indemnity provisions in offshore drilling contracts.
In a recent case, the plaintiff had instructed the defendant – the owner of the vessel Silver Moon – to head to the South Indian Ocean for cargo operations. Despite having received the instructions, the vessel had to deviate and deal with multiple repair works. In view of the vessel being unseaworthy, the plaintiff contended that the defendant was in repudiatory breach of the time charterparty and had the vessel arrested.