The commercial practice of delivering cargo to a recipient against a charterers' letter of indemnity without the production of bills of lading has long been commonplace in the shipping industry. The split of the delivery process into two stages can cause issues for owners that rely on the standard letter of indemnity wording, which refers only to the delivery of cargo and not its discharge. Given this risk, it is sensible for shipowners to ensure that discharge is explicitly covered in any letters of indemnity issued in their favour.
The English High Court recently confirmed when it will order the sale of liened cargo which is the subject of arbitration proceedings. This decision may be of interest to shipowners that are faced with a situation in which cargo belonging to a charterer remains on board a vessel for a long period without the owners receiving hire, while still incurring operating costs.