Voyage

Before the Rules were introduced the position was that in every contract of carriage by sea there was implied an absolute warranty of seaworthiness throughout the voyage.  The Rules simply demand that the owners shall exercise due diligence to make the ship seaworthy before and at the beginning of the voyage.  The same clause also demands that at the same time to properly man and equip the ship also to make the holds etc fit for the goods to be carried (make the ship “cargoworthy as well as seaworthy). The words “exercise due diligence” may not be taken lightly, it is a personal obligation upon the shipowner and may be considered as a “duty of care” but one that cannot be delegated. He cannot abdicate his responsibility to a third party no matter how highly qualified they may be. This was exemplified in the case of Riverstone Meat Co –v- Lancashire Shipping Co The Muncaster Castle [1961] where a consignment of ox tongue was damage by water. Some months earlier the ship underwent a loadline survey which was carried out by a reputable firm of surveyors under the supervision of Lloyds Register. After the survey the inspection covers on the storm valves had not been properly tightened by the fitter, thus water was allowed to enter the hold.  The case went all the way to the House of Lords where Lord Radcliffe, in concurring with the judgement against the shipowner made the practical point that it would not make sense for the plaintiff to go chasing after contractors and sub-contractors working for the shipowner, it was up to the shipowner to cover himself by obtaining satisfactory indemnities from those doing work for him.