Advice for Charterers as Legal Liabilities Grow

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
A surge in the volume of fixed premium business managed by the UK P&I Club and the proportion accounted for by time chartering has highlighted the growth and complexity of insuring these types of shipping operation. The financial results for the year ended February 20th 2007, discussed by the UK Club’s directors earlier this month (May), revealed that $65 million of the Club’s total gross premium income ($358 million) was fixed premium business----and that two-thirds of this came from time charterers. Risk is increasing, not only through aggregations of value carried on ever larger ships and increasing commodity prices but also because of significant claims inflation. Legal and regulatory changes, the approach of port authorities and court decisions have effectively meant an increase in charterers’ legal liabilities across a wide spectrum of marine incidents. These growing liabilities concern slot, space, voyage and time charterers, traditional charterers with a ship operating background, trading companies moving raw materials or finished products, and traders moving goods on a scale which requires chartering. In a serious accident, all connected parties may be involved.

Consequently, P&I clubs have been receiving a growing number of inquiries about charterers’ liabilities and more requests for protection & indemnity cover to meet possible exposure. Increasingly, charterers are looking for cover tailored to their particular situations, which integrates hull and other covers, provides pure liability protection for non-operational charters and offers pollution liability without sub-limit. These factors have prompted the UK Club to extend its cover to meet these requirements and to publish an eight-page guide on Charterers’ Liability Cover, available in newsletter or online format on www.ukpandi.com. The key charterer’s risks can be categorised as direct liability to third parties, indemnification of owners and hull damage.

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