Implied Obligations in Contract of Affreightment

4 min readSep 23, 2019


The rights, liabilities and obligations of the ship owner and charterer and both expressed very clear in the terms of any contract. Some of these obligations which include when the vessel to be loaded and discharged, when the master should give the notice to the agent of charterer, how much demurrage should be paid, who is responsible for the negligence of the crew and stevedores and when the bills of lading to be issued. Despite all these clearly stated points, there are also implied conditions/obligation of any contract. We’ve broken down 6 of these obligations for better understanding.

1. Seaworthiness of Vessel

In every contract there is understood obligation that the ship must be fit for sailing and must be able to withhold all the dangers of sea of which she will witness during the sea journey. According to this obligation various other points are also part of terms such as efficiency of crew, the fuel sufficiency and other things which are necessary for the carriage of goods. According to this obligation the owner should make sure ship is not only fit but must make sure it is really fit. Another point that is brought forward is that the ship must be fit only for the purpose for which it is chartered; the ship must be fit and strong in every prospect for the service delivery.

2 Obligation of reasonable dispatch

The second most important undertaking that is present in every contract is that the carrier or shipowner must perform his duties of dispatch. When no time has been given in the terms of contract than in these circumstances the dispatch must be done in a reasonable time. The reasonable time clause will be judged from the by what is normally expected by the shipowner. If the carrier has violated this obligation then the charterer can claim damages. If the reason of delay is due to natural causes such as rain, storm or any conditions beyond human control than no damage can be claimed by the party.

3 No deviation from agreed route

Under the contract of the carriage, the ship owner undertakes not to deviate from the route as mentioned in contract. Deviation can be explained as willful and not reasonable change in the route of journey as decided in terms of contract. One can only find out the deviation by looking into the route given in the pact. In the absence of any specific mention of routes, proper route is the direct route between the port of loading and discharge. However an exception for deviation is that in the case of any danger to the ship or cargo the carrier can deviate from the agreed route to prevent damage to cargo, crew or ship.

4 Nomination of safe port

In any kind of charter whether it is time charter or voyage charter when the charterer has been given the right to nominate a port then the charterer must nominate that port which is safe. it is the duty of charterer to nominate a safe port and the port must be safe for all the time mentioned in the contract. The period will include the time of entry in port to the departure. This nomination also includes that when loading and discharging is complete the vessel must be able to leave the port safely.

5 Not to ship dangerous goods

The shipper must not take to ship those good which are dangerous without notifying the peculiarities of those goods to the carrier. The dangerous goods not only include those commodities which are dangerous from start and those good which may become dangerous due to any leak or fumes. Whenever goods are shipped without giving notice to the shipper that these good are harmful then the shipper will be accountable for any damage which will be caused to the ship or cargo.

6 Frustration

When the contract cannot be completed or materialized without the fault of any party it is called frustration. There are various kinds of frustration; impossibility of the performance — frustration that happens when the ship that is chartered is lost or becomes constructive total loss. Delay also causes frustration as a delay may result in not achieving the objectives of the contract. The burden of proving frustration will be on that party who will be alleging it; He must satisfy the court that the event has made the contract useless or the performance of the contract has become illegal.

At, we owe it to our users to ensure they are completely protected throughout the charter (Voyage, Time or Bareboat) of their vessels. we have gone a step further to collaborate with a Lagos based high profile maritime law firm, Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL) to provide free BIMCO Charter Party Agreement (CPA) review and advisory services to Ship owners on our platform. Once a vessel is deemed fit for charter by a charterer on our platform, a copy of the parties BIMCO CPA is instantly sent to OAL for review and an opinion given in less than 24hrs.

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