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Seaworthiness

Unseaworthiness


Law and Sea.
Seaworthiness

Duty to provide a seaworthy ship at common law also includes cargoworthiness, which is an undertaking that the vessel should be reasonably fit to receive and carry the cargo and deliver it at the specified destination…
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Fitted for the Service, in Every Way
Last updated: 21-Jun-2015

Per Kerr, LJ in Alfred C Toepfer Schiffahrtsgesellschaft GmbH v Tossa Marine Co Ltd, (The Derby), [1985] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 325 at 331:

The context in which the words "in every way fitted for the service" occur shows that these words relate primarily to the physical state of the vessel. However, the authorities also show that their scope is wider, in at least two respects. First, in Hongkong Fir Shipping Co. Ltd. v Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., [1961] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 478; [1962] 2 Q.B. 26, the words "she being in every way fitted for ordinary cargo service" in the Baltime form of time charter were treated as forming part of an express warranty that the vessel was seaworthy, and it was held that this warranty required the provision of a sufficient and competent crew to operate the vessel for the purposes of the charter service. I accept that precisely the same reasoning applies to the words "in every way fitted for the service" in the present case. To that extent, therefore, these words go beyond the purely physical state of the vessel as such.

The second respect in which the scope of these words … has been held to go beyond the physical state of the vessel is that they have been held to cover the requirement that the vessel must carry certain kinds of documents which bear upon her seaworthiness or fitness to perform the service for which the charter provides. Navigational charts which are necessary for the voyages upon which the vessel may be ordered from time to time are an obvious illustration. For present purposes, however, we are concerned with certificates bearing upon the seaworthiness of the vessel. The nature of such certificates may vary according to the requirements of the law of the vessel’s flag or the laws or regulations in force in the countries to which the vessel may be ordered, or which may lawfully be required by the authorities exercising administrative or other functions in the vessel’s ports of call pursuant to the laws there in force. Documents falling within this category, which have been considered in the authorities, are certificates concerning the satisfactory state of the vessel which is in some respect related to her physical condition, and accordingly to her seaworthiness. Their purpose is to provide documentary evidence for the authorities at the vessel’s ports of call on matters which would otherwise require some physical inspection of the vessel, and possibly remedial measures – such as fumigation – before the vessel will be accepted as seaworthy in the relevant respect. The nature of description of such certificates, which may accordingly be required to be carried on board to render the vessel seaworthy, must depend on the circumstances and would no doubt raise issues of fact in individual cases.


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