Commercial Law II - Commercial Law II Seaworthiness In a...

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Commercial Law II Seaworthiness In a contract of affreightment there is an implied obligation on part of the ship owner to provide a Seaworthy Vessel. Accordingly the obligation shall be to provide a vessel fit to meet and undergo the ordinary perils of the sea and other risks incidental thereto which she may be exposed to in the course of the voyage. Upon examining the Nature of the Obligation regard may be given to the Common Law obligation to provide a seaworthy vessel and the standard of obligation found under The Hague Visby Rules. As per Common Law the obligation is absolute and in the event of a breach the owner shall be liable irrespective of fault. Explaining this obligation Lord Blackburn J in the case Steel V State Line Steamship held that – the obligation to provide a seaworthy vessel is not for the owner to do their best in making the ship fit, but that the ship should actually be fit. However it must be kept in mind that this obligation does not mean that the owner is bound to provide an accident free ship or a ship which could withstand all conceivable hazards; but to provide a ship which reasonably fit for the purpose it is required. In explaining this common law obligation further in the case of President of India V West Coast Steamship – the requirement is to furnish a ship and equipment reasonably fit for the intended use or service. And in the case of Mc-Faddon V Blue Star Line it was held by Channel J that the test would appear to be objective in that the vessel shall have that degree of fitness which an ordinary careful and prudent ship owner would require his vessel to have at the commencement of the voyage, having regard to all possible circumstances of it. However this common law obligation could be excluded by an appropriate clause under the contract of affreightment; although the courts are inclined to treat such clauses by a hostile approach in the same way as exception clauses applying a restrictive interpretation on them. This aspect was raised in the case of Nelson V Nelson where it was argued before court that damage on goods can be recoverable by insurance relying on an appropriate clause; which was rejected by courts on the basis that the owner shall be liable for loss or damage arising from unseaworthiness. A rare case where an appropriation clause was accepted by courts was in the
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Irbenskiy Poliv Case the court accepted an appropriation clause which excluded liability arising from unseaworthiness.
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  • Spring '15
  • Shipping, Cargo ship, Commercial item transport and distribution, Hague Visby Rules

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