Express Clauses Concerning Ship Readiness
There are times where the courts have found that despite the holds not being clean a NOR is still valid. This depends on the construction of the charterparty and any additional clauses as the following cases show.
In the Linardos (1994) 1 LLR 28, and the Jay Ganesh (1994) 2 LLR 358, both vessels were waiting for berths and a subsequent hold inspection. Both vessels had given NOR believing the holds to be clean, but they were subsequently found not to be clean. The charterparty in each case included clauses which provided that time lost due to the vessel not fulfilling her requirements, including cleanliness, should not count towards laytime. Including such a provision infers that the NOR can be given and time will start and continue to run until the vessel is inspected and the problem is discovered. Time from failure of the inspection and the cleaning time will clearly not count.
For an example of relevant wording, Gencon 94 Clause 6 (c) lines 117-119. Similar provisions are also found in many tanker charterparties which will exclude time spent or lost while tank cleaning. It should be noted, however, that such clauses only protect the owner to the extent that the NOR was given in good faith.
If the ship master had given a NOR knowing his holds were not clean then the NOR would not be valid. Had the charterparties not contained such clauses, the NOR would have been invalid and the owners would have been responsible for all the time between the tender of the (invalid) NOR and the re-tender of a new NOR once the vessel was in fact ready.
Note that the introduction of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code in 2005 has led to a number of specific clauses being drawn up to account for any delays that may arise in ports when the vessel is inspected. Absent any specific agreement (and decided cases) on this subject, it is probably safe to assume that if the vessel does not have all the required ISPS documents on board, the vessel will not be ‘ready’ for the purpose of tendering a valid NOR.
Linardos (1994) Case and Ship Readiness
The case of “The Linardos” (1994) is a significant legal case in maritime law, related to the readiness of a ship under a charterparty contract. The “Linardos” was a vessel that was chartered to carry a cargo of sugar from Thailand to Iran.
In this case, the vessel had a mechanical breakdown en route to the loading port, which caused a delay in the ship’s arrival. The shipowners declared that the vessel was ready to load the cargo, but the charterers disagreed, arguing that the ship was not in a seaworthy condition and thus not ready to load.
The key legal issue in this case was whether a vessel can be considered ready to load if it is not in a seaworthy condition. The case also examined the impact of a mechanical breakdown and delay on the readiness of the vessel under the charterparty contract.
The Court of Appeal in England held that a ship cannot be considered ready to load unless it is in a seaworthy condition. In other words, seaworthiness was considered a prerequisite for a ship to be deemed ready under a charterparty contract.
This case established an important precedent in maritime law, emphasizing the importance of ship readiness and seaworthiness in charterparty contracts. It also highlighted the responsibility of shipowners to ensure that their vessels are properly maintained and in a seaworthy condition prior to the commencement of a charter.
Gencon 94 Clause 6 (c) lines 117-119
“If, after inspection, the Vessel is found not to be ready in all respects to load/
discharge time lost after the discovery thereof until the Vessel is again ready to
load/discharge shall not count as laytime.”
If the ship master had given a NOR knowing his holds were not clean then the NOR would not be valid.
If the ship master issued a Notice of Readiness (NOR) despite knowing that the cargo holds were not clean, the NOR would be considered invalid or ineffective. In maritime law and practice, the NOR is a crucial document that signifies the vessel’s readiness to load or unload cargo. The validity of the NOR depends on the accurate representation of the ship’s condition and readiness. If the ship master provides a NOR while being aware that the cargo holds are not clean, it would be considered a misrepresentation and could lead to legal issues or disputes.
Express Clauses Concerning Ship Readiness
Here are some example clauses that might be included in a contract regarding the readiness of a ship for sea:
- Seaworthiness Clause: The Owner shall deliver the Vessel at the commencement of this Charter in a seaworthy condition, fully equipped for service, with all necessary documents, licenses, and certifications for the intended voyage and cargo, in compliance with all relevant regulations and requirements of the Vessel’s flag state, classification society, and any relevant port state or coastal state authorities.
- Maintenance and Repair Clause: The Owner shall be responsible for maintaining the Vessel, its machinery, and equipment in good operating condition throughout the term of the Charter. This includes, without limitation, all necessary repairs, replacements, renewals, and overhauls.
- Inspection Clause: The Charterer shall have the right to inspect the Vessel at any reasonable time to verify its condition and fitness for service. Any deficiencies identified during such inspections shall be promptly rectified by the Owner at its own expense.
- Availability Clause: The Owner warrants that the Vessel shall be ready for loading at the agreed port on the agreed date, barring unforeseen circumstances beyond the Owner’s control. Any delay caused by the Vessel not being ready may result in the Owner being liable for damages.
- Cargo Readiness Clause: The Owner shall ensure that the Vessel is fit to receive, stow, carry, and preserve the cargo under the conditions anticipated during the Charter. This includes, without limitation, the cleanliness of the cargo holds and tanks, the readiness of the cargo handling gear, and the adequacy of the Vessel’s stability and load line.
- Crew Readiness Clause: The Owner shall provide a sufficient number of competent and qualified crew members to operate the Vessel safely and efficiently. The crew shall comply with all applicable training and certification requirements.
- Insurance Clause: The Owner shall maintain sufficient insurance to cover any liabilities or expenses arising from the Vessel’s unseaworthiness, including, without limitation, hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance, and war risk insurance.
Please note that these are simplified versions of what might be included in a real contract, and the specific language would likely be more complex and detailed. Furthermore, each contract may contain different terms and conditions based on the specific nature of the charter and the negotiation between the parties. Therefore, it’s important to seek legal advice when drafting or entering into such contracts.