It is important to note that most of these conditions are also applicable for sea charter parties. The duties imposed on the ship-owners will now be discussed. First, is the duty to provide a seaworthy ship which is fit for the voyage to be undertaken. In The Amstelslot where the vessel broke down due to gear failure, the court held that the ship owner was negligent. 
In The Muncaster Castle cases of tinned ox tongues were shipped under bills of lading from Sydney to London. On discharge, the cases were found to be damaged by sea water. It was found that defective storm valve covers had let the sea-water enter into the hold. The ship owner argued that he employed reputable ship repairers to inspect and maintain the ship. Therefore the repairers should be held liable since they were independent contractors. Nevertheless, the court held him liable for his failure to exercise due diligence. 
Additionally, the court in The Thorsa, noted that the vessel must be capable of carrying the particular cargo. Same noted in Reed v Page. In Hamilton v Pandorf, the goods were destroyed by rats on board the ship. It was held that the duty to provide a sea worthy ship was breached by the shit-owner(s).

Secondly is the duty to proceed with due dispatch. In Freeman v Taylor, delay of seven weeks was regarded as sufficient to frustrate the commercial purpose of the contract.

We also have the duty to transport to agreed destination without deviation. But please note that deviation may be allowed where such is necessary to save life and property (In The Olympias, for example, the deviation was to save another ship (The Arion) which was in distress), to undertake necessary repairs on the ship and other deserving circumstances. 
In James Morrison & Co. v Shaw, Savill and Albion Co., the First World War case, where a ship was torpedoed and sunk while deviating from her contracted voyage, the court held that “as the accident occurred at the time and place when it did, the ship being then on her deviating course, the shipowner is responsible unless he can show that the loss or damage would have occurred if she had been on her proper course for London”.

There is the duty of care both in navigation and protection of the goods. As Lord Mcnaghten noted in The Xantho “…..to use due care and skill in navigating the vessel and carrying the goods”. Willes J in Notara v Henderson noted that “The shipowner is to take reasonable care of the goods entrusted to him… to preserve them on board and arrest loss in damaging situations”. In Lennard’s Carrying v Asiatic Petroleum, the court noted that the employer company can be liable for its employee’s (or agent’s) negligence where the agent can be said to be the directing mind or brain of the company. A similar position was followed in The Marion.

Exclusions for the Ship Owner.

At common law, the following exclusions were available to ship owners to exclude them from liability: 1. An act of God which was not foreseen and which could not have been prevented 2. An Act of the Queen’s enemies 3. Inherent vices where the goods by their nature have an inherent defect for example where the goods are unfit to withstand normal and ordinary occurrences. The carrier must have exercised due care. Under Article IV of the VISBY rules, he is generally not liable for damages caused by inherent vice in the goods. The position has been affirmed in Albacora SRL v Westcott Laurance Line 4. 
Latent defects: In Silver v Ocean Steamship Co, a cargo of Chinese eggs packed in tins were not covered with cloth or any other form of packing. No mention of the defective packing was made on the bills. On arrival, the goods were found to be damaged. It was also found that the tins had pinhole perforations. The carrier was estopped from denying the insufficient packing of the tins but could not be estopped from alleging the presence of the pinhole perforations. The ship-owner may also insert various exclusion clauses (Black v Rose) in the agreement so as to exculpate him from liability in the event of riot, strikes (The New Horizon) latent defects (In Cargo ex Lacoles, the use of the phrase ‘latent defect existing even at the time of shipment’ was deemed sufficient to qualify the seaworthiness undertaking. 
Under Article IV of the HAGUE-VISBY rules, he is generally exculpated from liability for latent defects not discoverable by due diligence), Fire (Virginia Carolina Chemical v Norfolk and North American Steam Shipping), loading and offloading accidents (In New Zealand Shipping Co Ltd v AM Satterthwaite and Co Ltd, the bill of lading excluded the carrier from all liability whatsoever from unlading. The exclusion clause was held valid).

On the part of the owner of the goods or the person utilizing the ship to transport his goods, there is a duty on him not to ship dangerous goods. Where the goods are dangerous, he must inform the ship owner(s). In Brass v Maitland, fumes from the bleaching powder containing chloride of lime escaped and corroded other goods carried along in the ship. The shipper claimed he acquired them from a third party without inspecting them. Lord Campbell and Wightman J were of the opinion that the liability is absolute.


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