The Commercial Court recently provided guidance on the interpretation of consent provisions in a transport and processing agreement where such consent was not to be "unreasonably withheld". The issue of withholding consent arises regularly under long and short-term shipping charterparties. A key takeaway from this judgment is that to establish whether consent may be withheld, the parties' bargain as a whole must be considered and not the consent provision in isolation.
The Supreme Court recently examined the requirement that an arbitrator must disclose related or linked appointments, which is a long-running debate, particularly in specialist fields (eg, maritime disputes), where there has traditionally been a limited pool of arbitrators. This decision is likely to fundamentally change the way in which shipowners, charterers and traders proceed with arbitrators in the future.
Shipowners routinely give buyers in demolition sales complete freedom to deal with ships as they please following a sale, but do so at their peril. Shipowners are generators of waste under the Basel Convention and other laws and remain liable as such following a sale. Further, shipowners and those assisting them in such transactions may also incur liabilities in tort to third parties in connection with shipyard worker injuries and environmental damage occurring after a sale, as noted in a recent High Court judgment.
The Court of Appeal recently endorsed a first-instance Admiralty Court decision that a failure to properly prepare a passage plan or properly mark up navigational charts to reflect navigational dangers may amount to a failure to exercise due diligence to make the vessel seaworthy, leading to an actionable fault defence for cargo interests who had refused to contribute to the general average.
The Admiralty Court recently handed down a judgment which looked in detail at the scope and meaning of the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims – in particular, the meaning of the phrase "the operator of the ship" in Article 1(2). In determining the meaning of 'operator', it was also necessary for the court to examine the meaning of 'manager'. This is the first time that the English courts have been called on to consider this issue.