ITIC warns shipmanagers on lay-up liability

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The International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has urged its shipmanager members to seek legal advice before entering into any contracts with owners relating to the laying-up of vessels.

ITIC says there has been a recent sharp increase in the number of lay-up contracts which it has been asked to review. Some of these agreements are based on amended shipmanagement contracts, where the manager acts as agent for and on behalf of the owner. Other agreements involve the manager offering lay-up services to the owner as a principal rather than as agent.

ITIC said: “Where the manager offers these services as an agent of the owner, it will arrange for the appropriate anchorage to be sourced and also arrange for the maintenance and repair of the vessel. If the manager contracts to actually undertake the maintenance and repair of the vessel itself, the contractual relationship between the owner and the manager changes completely. In those circumstances, the manager is taking on the role of a contractor and therefore may require ship repairers’ liability insurance in the event of damage being caused to the ship by anybody who is actively engaged in its maintenance and repair on behalf of the shipmanager.

“Such maintenance and repair insurance is available, but it may be substantially more expensive than existing professional indemnity insurance. As such, shipmanagers should have any lay-up contracts reviewed by their legal advisers prior to making any decisions about the insurance cover they are likely to need.”

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