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The Safe Port Promise of Charterers from the Perspective of the English Common Law

D Rhidian Thomas

(2006) 18 SAcLJ 597

The safe port promise of charterers is a vital aspect of charterparty contracts but it is one which is not always accurately understood within the shipping industry. Notwithstanding that its basic concern is with safety, the basis of the promise is commercial expediency, not public policy and, therefore, the nature and breadth of the promise is ultimately governed by the intention of the parties. Nonetheless, there is sufficient consistency and uniformity in the law to make it possible to present a clear image of the substantive promise, which emerges as a much more limited and qualified undertaking than popular imaginings. The promise operates in the same manner as contractual promises generally, but it also, more widely, impinges on the validity of port nominations and voyage orders, a fact which contributes to the surprising complexity of the law and the survival of several unresolved outstanding issues.