Hague-Visby Rules

Both parties are released by a supervening change in the law which renders the contract void by the law of the country in which performance was to have taken place. In Rolli Brothers v Companie Naviera (1920) a change in Spanish law made it illegal to pay the full charter freight and only the sum permissible by Spanish law was recoverable. Where frustration occurs the contract automatically comes to an end and each of the parties will be released from any further liability under the contract. However freight payable in advance is not returnable if frustration supervenes. The Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943 governs the rights and liabilities of parties to time charters and charters by demise. The Act does not apply to contracts such as bills of lading or voyage charter and the rights of parties to such contracts are determined by common law principles. In every contract of carriage by sea, whether contained in a voyage charter party or otherwise there must be no deviation from the route of the voyage. If no route is specified it will be by the “usual route” which will generally be the direct geographical line unless there is evidence that ships usually take another route. At Common law it was always permissible to deviate for the purpose of saving human life or to answer a distress signal relating to endangered life or to save the deviating ship or cargo. The Hague and Hague-Visby Rules also permit deviation to save property (as against life) and reasonable deviations. Departure from the usual route may be justified by express stipulations in the charter party such as liberty or deviation clauses. A clause granting leave to call at any ports will only allow the shipowner to call at ports which will be passed in the ordinary course of a named voyage in their geographical order; and the addition of the words “in any order” will allow the shipowner to depart from the geographical order.