Institute of Commercial Management | Qualification Subject

Maritime Law

Main Topics of Study


  • The charterparty
  • The bill of lading contract
  • Charterers’ bills of lading
  • The demise charterparty

Implied obligations in a contract of affreightment

The undertaking as to seaworthiness

  • Nature of the obligation
  • Incidence of obligation
  • Burden of proof
  • Effect of breach

Obligation for reasonable dispatch

  • Effect of breach

Obligation not to deviate from the agreed route

  • Justifiable deviations
  • Liberty clauses
  • The effect of breach

The obligation to nominate a safe port

  • The period covered by the warranty
  • The nature of the risks covered
  • The nature of the undertaking – remedies available for breach
  • The scope of the undertaking

The obligation not to ship dangerous goods

  • Meaning of dangerous goods
  • Nature of liability
  • Liability under the Hague/Visby Rules
  • Statutory regulation

The effect of frustration

  • Types of frustration
  • Factors to be taken into consideration
  • Effect of frustration

The voyage charterparty

An overview of the charter

  • Introductory clauses
  • Cargo clauses
  • Freight clauses
  • Laytime provisions
  • Other clauses
  • Performance of the charterparty

The arrived ship

  • Charterparty provisions shifting risk of delay
  • Readiness to load or discharge

The preliminary voyage

  • Nomination of port of loading
  • ‘Or so near thereto as she may safely get’
  • The voyage to the loading port

The loading operation

  • Division of responsibility
  • Provision of cargo
  • Laytime
  • Demurrage and damages for detention

The carrying voyage

The discharging operation

  • Delivery

The time charterparty

General legal overview

  • Clause describing vessel
  • The charter period
  • Off-hire
  • Payment of hire – right to withdraw for non-payment
  • Employment and indemnity clause
  • Return to the vessel

Description of the vessel

Period of hire

  • Specific clauses
  • Effect of overlap

Payment for hire

  • Payment in cash
  • Payment in advance

The off-hire clause

  • Period of off-hire
  • Effects of the operation of the off-hire clause

Deductions from hire

Right to withdraw vessel for non-payment of hire

  • Requirements for exercise of right of withdrawal
  • Waiver of right to withdraw
  • Possible bars to exercise of the right of withdrawal
  • Effect of exercise of right to withdraw

Employment and agency clause

Redelivery of the vessel

Bills of lading and their functions

Historical introduction

Functions of a bill of lading

  • As receipt for goods shipped
  • As evidence of the contract of carriage
  • As a document of title

Presentation of a bill of lading

Problems in presentation

  • Short form bill of lading
  • The waybill
  • The straight bill of lading
  • The registry system
  • A possible practical solution

Electronic bills of lading

  • Atlantic Container Line datafreight system
  • Electronic data exchange systems
  • Bolero

Switch bills

Application of the Hague/Visby Rules

Application of the Rules

  • Types of carriage covered by the Rules
  • The cargoes excluded
  • Period of coverage of the Rules

Legal effect of the Rules

Basic provisions of the Hague/Visby Rules

  • Duties of the carrier
  • Rights and immunities of the carrier
  • Other provisions

Incorporation of the Hague /Visby Rules in charterparties

  • Effect of incorporation

Bills of lading – Hamburg Rules

  • Introduction
  • Scope of application of the Rules
  • Basic carrier liability
  • Limitation of liability
  • Loss of right to limit liability
  • Other provisions
  • Prospects for adoption of the Hamburg Rules
  • Later developments
  • The CMI/UNCITRAL project

Bills of lading issued under charterparties

  • Where bill of lading issued to charterer
  • Where bill issued to third-party shipper
  • Who is the carrier?
  • What are the terms of the contract?
  • Where bills indorsed by charterer to a third party
  • Shipowner’s recourse against charterer

Problems of combined transport

The liability of the carrier

  • Locating damage or loss
  • Limitation of liability
  • Claims in tort
  • Combined transport and documentary and credits
  • Effect of transhipment
  • Transhipment and documentary credits
  • Multimodal Convention 1980


Common law exceptions

  • Act of God
  • Act of the Queen’s enemies
  • Inherent vice

Contractual exceptions

  • Perils of the sea
  • Restraint of princes
  • Strikes or lockouts
  • Defective packing

The Hague/Visby exceptions

  • Act, neglect, or default of the master, mariner, pilot or the servants of the carrier in the navigation or in the management of the ship
  • Fire, unless caused by the actual fault or privity of the carrier
  • The catch–all exception

Bars to the exceptions

  • Negligence
  • Unseaworthiness
  • Fundamental breach

Limitation of liability

Merchant Shipping Act 1995

  • Parties covered
  • Types of claim covered
  • Limitation amount
  • Breaking the limits


The basic obligation

  • Calculation of freight
  • Deductions from freight
  • The effect of deviation

Advance freight

Specialised types of freight

  • Lump sum freight
  • Pro-rata freight
  • Back freight
  • Dead freight

Payment of freight

  • Party from whom freight due
  • Party from whom freight payable

Shipowners’ liens

Liens at common law

  • Requirements for the exercise of the common law lien for freight

Express contractual liens

  • Characteristic of contractual lien

Dispute settlement

Problems of conflicts of laws

  • Jurisdiction of the English courts
  • Choice of forum
  • Choice of law clause

Security for claims

  • The action in rem
  • The freezing injunction


  • The Arbitration Act 1996
  • Basic principles
  • Types of arbitration
  • Commencement of arbitration
  • Appeal from arbitration award
  • Other challenges to an award
  • Control by the court of arbitration proceedings
  • Enforcement of arbitration awards

Breach of contract

Forms of breach

  • Anticipatory breach

The effects of breach

  • Conditions and warranties
  • Intermediate terms
  • The effects of a repudiatory breach

The action for damages

  • Remoteness of damage
  • Measure of damages
  • Other relevant considerations in assessing damages

Remedies other than remedies

  • Specific performance
  • Injunction

Recommended Reading

Main Text:

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Carriage of Goods by Sea – J F Wilson (Pitman)

Indicative Text:

Alternative Text and Further Reading:

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Shipping Law – S. Baughen (Cavendish)

Business and Law for the Mariner – Capt. I. Salter Master Mariner (Brown, Son and Ferguson)