Since May 2019, six oil tankers have been attacked in the Strait of Hormuz. However, despite these attacks, vessels are still taking orders to sail through the strait, albeit with higher war risk insurance rates and, most likely, heightened crew concerns. At what point under UK law can owners refuse such voyage orders on the basis that the strait is contractually unsafe?
The Court of Appeal recently provided important clarification in relation to the apportionment of liability for cargo claims as between shipowners and charterers under the Inter-club Agreement. The issue before the Court of Appeal was whether the word 'act' in the phrase 'act or neglect' in Clause 8(d) of the Inter-club Agreement means a culpable act in the sense of fault or whether it means any act, culpable or not.
In Songa Winds, the London High Court found that letters of indemnity requesting delivery without the production of bills of lading to an intermediate trader of cargo are triggered even if delivery is to the trader's buyer. The use of letters of indemnity to allow the delivery of cargo to a named party without the production of a bill of lading is relatively common, but infrequently called upon.
A recent Court of Appeal decision overturned the High Court judgment against the time charterers of a ship, reinstating the arbitration award in their favour. The decision has added another reason for delaying a final assessment of the loss of profit on a repudiated long-term charter by waiting to see whether the owners will sell the vessel.
A recent Commercial Court decision held that a charterer is 100% responsible under the Inter-Club Agreement for damage to cargo arising from an order to the vessel to delay discharge until the receivers are able to pay for the cargo. Given that it is common for shipments to be delayed, more disputes relating to deliberately delaying discharge can be expected in the future.
Two recent London decisions involving shipping companies have highlighted problems that can be encountered when starting an arbitration. The first decision concerned an issue with identifying whether a non-signing counterparty is bound by the agreement containing the arbitration clause. The second decision concerned the question of which parties are authorised to accept service of arbitration notices.
A recent arbitration decision raises a number of interesting points in connection with lay-up agreements and how much can be claimed for continuing to provide services after the original contract has been terminated. It will be of interest to parties that see their unpaid charges increasing, as well as to other involuntary bailees, such as vessel owners left holding cargo with no bills of lading binding them after their charterers have ceased operations.
In a dry bulk market where a charterer is not paying freight or hire, its counterparty is often left to consider whether it can lien the cargo on board the chartered vessel to obtain payment. When it comes to liening cargo under a Congenbill, English law will look first to the head voyage charterparty as the source of relevant terms to be incorporated into the Congenbill, unless another charter is expressly identified. This can lead to a less-than-obvious outcome.
Two of the most commonly used sets of hull and machinery insurance terms are the Nordic Marine Insurance Plan 2013 and the Institute Time Clauses Hulls 1983 (ITC). Both have long traditions, but with different approaches. For example, hull and machinery insurance on the Nordic Plan covers all risks unless they are specifically excluded, while the ITC is based on the 'named perils' principle.
The Commercial Court has handed down its judgment in Ocean Victory. The case concerned a safe port warranty and total loss, but it also addressed whether the insurer – as the assignee of the co-assured demise charterer – was entitled to claim indemnity from time charterers for the demise charterer's liability towards the co-assured head owners in respect of their breach of the safe port warranty.
Quality is always a concern when it comes to new builds. The orders for some of the new builds now coming up for delivery were placed at a time when prices were significantly higher than in today's market. With such an inversion of delivered price to market price, it remains more important than ever to ensure that the build quality is acceptable and in accordance with the building contract.