Port Unsafe

In this case it is strongly arguable, in the absence of express words, that the owner is accepting an obligation to go to that port and must therefore satisfy himself that it is safe. In this situation it is hard to see how a warranty of safety on the part of the charterer could be implied into the charter party. The same arguments may be applied where the charter names more than one port, if this is by reference to an express list of names, rather than a generic range. Even though the charterer would still have to nominate the actual port, he could only do so from the stated list to which the owner may be taken to have agreed. If a warranty of safety can be established, it is necessary to determine the time at which it is given and the period to which it relates. A leading case on this question is ‘The Evia’ (No. 2) (1982) which was considered by the House of Lords. A vessel under a time charter party which required the charterers to use ‘safe ports only’ was ordered by them to proceed to Basrah. She arrived there on the 20 August 1979, and discharge of the cargo was completed on 22 September, but she was unable to leave as a result of the outbreak of large-scale hostilities between Iran and Iraq. The shipowners claimed damages from the charterers. Their Lordships held that there would be judgement for the charterers. Although war was an event which was capable, in principle, of rendering a port unsafe, at the time the nomination was given, war had not been declared and the charterer had been entitled to nominate the port. Their Lordships considered whether or not the safe port warranty was a continuing warranty applying from the time when the port was nominated to the time when the vessel had completed her visit. Lord Roskill held that there was no justification for such an argument. The warranty was given by the charterer at the time when he nominated the port and related to the prospective safety of the port at the time when the vessel was expected to be there. Thus, it did not matter if the port was unsafe at the time it was nominated, provided it would be safe at the time when the vessel needed to use it. In this context, therefore, it did not matter if the port subsequently became unsafe.