Under the Insolvency Act, claims by an insolvent creditor remain enforceable. However, due to certain restrictions, debtors of a bunker supplier may be prohibited from effecting payment to the insolvent company directly. The risks for vessel owners and charterers arising as a result of the insolvency of a contractual bunker supplier are complex. The best way forward is risk awareness when negotiating supply contracts and charterparties.
In case of unpaid bunker deliveries, the risk that a vessel will be arrested in Germany is limited. It may be present if there are direct contractual relations between the vessel owner and bunker supplier or if the physical bunker supplier has a maritime lien in respect of the vessel. If the vessel arrest turns out to be unlawful, the vessel owner may claim damages from the arresting party.
A district court has denied a freight forwarder's liability for loss of goods due to the sinking of a vessel which had been classified without complaints ahead of its final journey. However, it emerged that cracks in the hull had gone undetected. The court decided that the defendant was not responsible for its lack of knowledge of the vessel's unseaworthiness.