A Legitimate Reason For Court Avoidance

The shipping industry is synonymous with the service industry; from ship builders, equipment suppliers and ship managers to freight forwarders, ship brokers and agents, all linked together to provide a service to carry a commodity, including paying passengers, from A to B.

The success of the industry is determined by the success of the individual service companies so if one fails it jeopardises the overall financial award but also the ability of that company to be successful. Unfortunately errors occur, some inevitable but others by mistakes or oversights and these are the ones that affect reputation and future business potential. Below are five actual incidents that illustrate the point:

Incident 1: A ship manager was responsible for the technical management of a bulk carrier which loaded regularly at the same iron ore port. The master notified the manager of a problem with a mooring winch which rendered it partly operational but usable.

The manager had taken no action to arrange the repairs. The master always informed the pilot upon arrival on each occasion but after many months the pilot refused to berth the vessel until the winch was repaired. There was a four day delay and the charterers placed the vessel off-hire. The ship owner brought a claim for $150,000 against the manager.

Incident 2: A ship's agent was asked by the master prior to arrival whether the vessel had to burn low-sulphur fuel while in port limits and alongside the berth. The master determined while waiting at anchorage there was insufficient low-sulphur fuel on board and the port was unable to supply.

The owners decided to divert to another port to bunker and then return to the loading port. The owner later determined the local regulations only required vessels to burn low-sulphur fuel while alongside the berth, and not at the anchorage. The owners brought a claim for $150,000 against the agent.

Incident 3: A tanker broker operations staff received a telephone and email message over the weekend from a colleague asking for cargo loading details to be passed to a tanker owner. The message from the charterer required a change of discharge port rotation and impacted on the cargo loading quantity. The operations staff took no action assuming the message had been sent to a general operations email address. Due to the failure to pass on the message, the vessel loaded the incorrect amount of cargo and the original port rotation had to remain. The ship owner submitted a...

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