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'The Covid battlefield' for owners and charterers

Coronavirus has the world’s attention. Shipping will clearly be affected. It could lead to disputes, souring some commercial relationships. Let's consider some scenarios where owners and charterers may trade blows.

Free pratique is not granted for 2 days as two crew had been infected in the previous port (but disembarked). Charterers deduct hire - The Apollo [1977]. Court said obtaining of free pratique was no mere formality & there was good cause for careful testing & disinfection. Vessel’s full working was prevented and was thus off-hire.

There could also be instances where NOR may be invalid. To be noted that the mere fact that free pratique is not obtained would not prevent her from being an ‘arrived ship’, as in The Delian Spirit [1971].

Stevedores could also refuse to work out of fear, such as what happened in Lagos in 1917. It was a concerted cessation of work. Could be considered as - ‘strike’? Will affect laytime / demurrage.

Health risk can make a port unsafe. Is the port well equipped, has transmission been contained, can spread of disease be prevented by taking basic precautions, what was the situation at time of nomination, was the disease prevalent when C/P was concluded - are some questions which may need to be considered. It is fact sensitive.

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