Failure to check charterparty wording catches ship manager off guard

International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has urged ship brokers and managers to check the terms of their charterparty agreements closely before signing, in order to avoid costly mistakes further down the line.

By way of illustration, ITIC cites the case of the manager of a tanker entering West African waters who believed that the terms of a charterparty provided that armed guards were to be appointed at the charterer’s expense. The manager duly appointed the guards for the voyage at a cost of $170,000, but the charterer refused to pay the invoice.

The terms of the charterparty did in fact include provisions relating to the appointment of armed guards, but their deployment was not mandatory. In addition, the charterparty provided that the charterer was only liable for up to $20,000 of any such costs. The charterer offered to pay that $20,000, and the owner demanded that the managers pay the shortfall.

The owner pointed out that it had sent the manager voyage orders stating that the decision to appoint armed guards was one for the owner to make. It had in fact only appointed armed guards for one out of the last 10 calls to the area and on that occasion the charterparty required the charterer to pay the security bill in full.

ITIC says it has seen a number of claims caused by ship brokers and managers acting on their recollection of a charterparty wording, as opposed to checking what the charterparty actually says. On this occasion, ITIC reimbursed the full claim of $150,000.