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Master of a Ship Authority

Employment and Indemnity Clause

Master’s Duty to Obey Orders
Last updated: 06-Oct-2014

Per Mr. Justice Donaldson in Midwest Shipping Co. v D. I. Henry (The Anastasia),[1971] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 375 at p.379:

In this connection it is important to remember that the master of a merchant ship occupies a civilian post. He is not the captain of a naval vessel who might well be expected to comply instantly with an order and seek verification or reconsideration afterwards. Furthermore, he is not receiving the instruction from somebody who is his professional superior, as would be the case in the services. He is the representative of his owners and also to some extent of the charterers. He occupies a post of very great responsibility, and he occupies that post by virtue of long training and experience. If he was the type of man who would immediately act upon any order from charterers without further consideration, he would probably be unfitted for that post. It seems to me that against that background it must be the duty of the master to act reasonably upon receipt of orders. Some orders are of their nature such that they would, if the master were to act reasonably, require immediate compliance. Others would require a great deal of thought and consideration before a reasonable master would comply with them.

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