Pirates in the boilerplate
The explosion in piracy has reached the point where the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) has come up with “model piracy clauses” that can be inserted into chartering agreements.
“Many current charter parties will not have anticipated the possibility of the vessel being hijacked,” the group said. “Owners should therefore check the terms of their existing charters and bills of lading before, for example, taking any decision to re-route the ship.”
Rerouting a ship, they note, “may expose an owner to claims for breach of charter — for example a failure to prosecute the voyage with ‘due’ or ‘utmost dispatch,’ and also to claims under the bill of lading — for example for deviation and late delivery. Owners should also check their war risk clauses, some of which permit a deviation in appropriate circumstances.”
Intertanko, which represents about 80 percent of the independent tanker fleet, said the new clauses will “address the main issues involved in transiting the Gulf of Aden and/or rerouting the ship.”
For example, they allow the master of the ship or its owners to take preventive actions if they feel their vessel, crew or cargo may be exposed to the risk of piracy such as: proceeding in convoy, using escorts, avoiding day or night navigation, adjusting speed or course, or engaging security personnel or equipment on or about the vessel.
It gives them the right to follow instructions or recommendations given by governments or “supragovernmental” organizations, and using alternative routes as long as they notify charterers.
And it requires charterers to pay owners additional freight calculated at the demurrage rate for all time spent as a consequence of exercising their rights to protect themselves from pirates.
The clauses can be seen here. ' Chris Dupin