We understand that when a dispute arises in the realm of shipping, it can be a stressful time for owners, charterers, insurers and brokers a like. Our Marine solicitors have a wealth of experience and are equipped with the legal expertise to provide you with pragmatic advice tailored for you.
Anchored at the heart of all shipping arrangements, lies a charterparty. We know that charterparties can come in all different shapes and sizes; with both standard and bespoke clauses. We are conversant with the international conventions that govern charterparties and are accustomed to advising on charterparty terms. Whether you require assistance before or during the performance of the charterparty, or in addressing issues once the vessel has been redelivered, we are able to assist.
We understand that reputation is important and time is often of the essence when disputes arise. We aim to deal with any issues expeditiously and in a proportionate manner, with your best interests as our priority.
How can our marine solicitors help?
- File Reviews: We know that sometimes all you need is a guiding hand. We offer file reviews in order to help steer you in the right direction and make the best decisions for you and/or your clients.
- Charterparty terms: The terms of a charterparty are commonly the source of disagreement between parties. What was agreed? Who agreed to do what and when? We have the aptitude to interpret charterparty terms and provide you with detailed advice, based on our legal expertise and experience.
- Workboats: In respect of Workboats, we can advise on the terms and conditions of charter agreements and in relation to disputes arising under such agreements. We have considerable experience in negotiating and dealing with claims that arise from the use of the BIMCO Supplytime form for offshore support vessels, as well as the Towhire and Towcon forms.
Here are just some examples of charterparty terms, which often lead to disputes:
- Demurrage: disputes can arise in relation to laytime and demurrage claims. We can provide advice in all areas concerning the delay in loading and discharging of cargo. From failures to provide cargo, to incorrect details on the bills of lading, mechanical faults on-shore or on-board, liens over cargo, inspection failures, contamination of cargo and everything in between.
- Off-hire claims: disputes often arise in relation to when and whether a vessel is on-hire or off-hire during a charterparty fixture. When a vessel is off-hire, hire is interrupted; meaning hire is not payable by the charterer. Therefore, distinguishing when a vessel is off-hire is important and ultimately the terms of the charterparty will govern this. We can provide advice as to whether a vessel is, or should be considered, off-hire based on the terms of the charterparty and the effects of this, on hire payments.
- Cancellation and termination claims: charterparties often have a clause setting out circumstances in which a charterparty can be cancelled or terminated, without repercussions. Sometimes however these clauses are silent, or you may seek to rely on a repudiatory breach [link to : charterparty repudiation issues and damages bulletin 15.9.15] of the charterparty by the other party, which is not included in the cancellation clause. We know that making the wrong decision can have financially devastating effects; getting it right is what we pride ourselves on.
- Hull fouling and damage claims: as vessels pass through cold and tropical waters and spend time at anchorage or whilst bunkering, hull fouling can occur. Disputes as to who is responsible for cleaning the hull, or who should pay for the cleaning, are often not clear from the charterparty terms. Fouled hulls can lead to other issues too, for example speed and performance issues. We can help you untangle the charterparty terms to identify to what extent, who is responsible for what.
- Speed and performance disputes: from speed and consumption disputes, to warranties and ‘about’ terms, we can advise you on all aspects of disputes arising from speed and performance issues.
- Bunkering: whether contamination has occurred, or a dispute as to who is responsible for bunkering (or delays incurred by bunkering) arises, we are on hand to provide you with advice. We have experience in back-to-back contracts and indemnity claims when it comes to bunkering too.
Cargo claims: like cargo, disputes in relation to them come in all shapes and sizes. We can provide you with pragmatic advice in relation to all cargo disputes [link to: charterers’ liability for cargo claims and the effect of the Inter-Club Agreement bulletin 19.2.19], whether they arise from issues with the Bill of Lading, liens over cargo, or involve cargo being damaged, lost, abandoned, mis-declared, contaminated [link to: stink bugs bulletin dated 21.05.19] or otherwise.
Salvage and general average: when there is an emergency where voluntary sacrifice of a part of a ship or its cargo is needed, we can provide you with the legal expertise to ensure you get the best possible outcome [link to: poorly maintained ships and general average bulletin dated 24.4.18]
Unsafe Ports: These can be complex cases when a party alleges the systems in a port are so poor it makes a berth unsafe. We have a wealth of experience in dealing with these disputes, which can often involve an indemnity issue.
We know that not all fixtures are smooth sailing and disputes can arise. The terms of a charterparty will govern the way disputes must be handled, if they cannot be resolved:
Arbitration: arbitration clauses are found in charterparties and dictate where and how parties want their disagreements to be resolved. We can provide advice on all aspects of arbitration, from the arbitration procedure itself, to appointing an arbitrator, initiating or responding to arbitration proceedings, drafting submissions, disclosure, evidence, the best course of action, settlement arrangements, collecting and enforcing a Final Arbitration Award.
Small claims: We have a wealth of experience in handling small claims – using the LMAA Small Claims Procedure. We offer a fixed fee service for handling Small Claims Procedure cases We can advise you on all aspects of bringing or defending arbitration proceedings using the LMAA Small Claims Procedure].
Enforcement and arrest in the UK: whether you have a Final Arbitration Award or a Court Order, we can advise you on how to enforce your Award/Order to achieve the best recovery. This includes how and when to arrest assets, such as ships, bunkers and cargoes. Further, we can provide effective advice on how to recover sums owed by a party faced with insolvency [link to bulletin: Filing for Bankruptcy dated 5.3.15]. We are part of the ShipArrest .com group enabling us to access shipping lawyers in most ports around the world.
Worldwide, freezing injunctions and interim steps to secure claims across the globe: shipping by its nature is international and commonly as are the contracting parties to a charterparty – with assets all over the globe. Not only are we familiar with enforcing Arbitration Awards and Court Orders on a global scale, but we can advise you on what measures to take when attempting to secure a counter-party’s assets, on an interim basis, whilst you secure an Award/Order capable of enforcement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Making any adjustments to the standard BIMCO forms, can potentially lead to problems. Supplementary clauses increase the risk of ambiguity on what has been agreed between both parties. Skill and care is required to ensure that any supplementary clauses do not undermine the division of risk set out in the printed clauses. An intention to agree the use of supplementary clauses should not be taken up readily, without full regard to their impact.