Amended Jason Clause

The ‘Amended Jason Clause’ should be inserted in all Bills of Lading for voyages to and from the United States. The necessity for it arises because of an important difference between American law and English law. In American law The Harter Act 1893, Section 3 provides that if a shipowner exercises due care to make his vessel seaworthy, neither he, the vessel, her agent, nor the charterer is liable for damage or loss arising from (inter alia – amongst other things) faults or errors in navigation, or in the management of the vessel. After this Act was passed, it was assumed that since it exempted a shipowner from liability for losses arising from negligent navigation, he was entitled to recover in General Average for the ship’s sacrifices which had minimised the greater loss for which he was now relieved from the liability. It was held, however, by the Supreme Court of the United States in The Irrawaddy (1897) that the exemption in the 1893 Act did not entitle a shipowner to claim a contribution for a General Average loss due to the negligence of his servants. Thus, it became usual to insert a clause in Bills of Lading for vessels trading to and from the United States, expressly declaring that the shipowner could recover in General Average in the event of negligence, provided that due diligence had been exercised to make the ship in all respects seaworthy. This has become known as ‘The Jason Clause’. The original clause has been amended in certain respects and the one in use is now generally known as the ‘Amended Jason Clause’.