Dangerous Goods

Nevertheless, if the term ‘self-trimmer’ is used too freely for all commodities and without bearing in mind the full particulars of loading methods, it is possible to create an expensive dispute. As a result, some operators of bulkcarriers prefer to use the term ‘easy-trimmer’, which it is considered conveys a more realistic appraisal of a bulkcarrier’s capacity when loading bulk commodities. Most shipowners are naturally eager to exclude the carriage of dangerous goods and the ‘cargo exclusions clause’ can form one of the most contentious parts of a negotiation leading to a dry cargo timecharter fixture. The shipowner will seek as many exclusions as possible, whilst the charterer will aim to have as few restrictions on vessel employment as it is possible to negotiate. A ‘new’ commodity – toxic waste – should be added to the list of undesirables, not only of danger to those coming into contact with it, but a cargo likely to be rejected by the country of destination, thereby creating enormous problems for shipowners forced to carry it from port to port seeking a means of removal. Certain shipowners/operators are extremely strict on what cargoes can or cannot be carried in their vessel(s), the list expanding item by item on the basis of experience. By comparison, other shipowners specialise in handling dangerous cargo in compliance with the IMO rules. However the intention of a timecharterer expressed in a time charterparty to carry a particular commodity does not remove the risk or the need to include a comprehensive list of excluded cargoes in the contract. An ‘intention’ may be changed to a choice of a ‘dangerous’, unexcluded cargo. Also, following arbitral precedent in New York, the exclusion of ‘petroleum and/or its products’ does not exclude ‘petroleum coke’ nor, it is believed, would the exclusion of ‘cement’ naturally exclude ‘cement clinker’. International rules for the packing, labelling and carriage of dangerous cargo are set out in the IMO Dangerous Goods Code.