Speed warranties. “Good weather” need not last for 24 hours (and often doesn’t).

In December 2013 the Ocean Virgo [2015] EWHC 3405 (Comm) was trip chartered on the NYPE form. The charter contained speed and performance warranties on the basis of “good weather/smooth sea, up to max BF SC 4/Douglas sea state 3, no adverse currents, no negative influence of swell”. The charterers claimed damages, alleging that the vessel had failed to meet the warranties. The owner’s response was that for a period to be considered as being admissible “good weather” it had to constitute a period of 24 consecutive hours running from noon to noon. Lesser periods had to be excluded. The tribunal agreed.

However, Teare J. has now held that this constituted an error in law. The charterparty merely referred to “good weather” and contained no words which justified construing good weather as meaning good weather days of 24 hours from noon to noon. The award disclosed a further error of law by stating: “had the AWT report correctly identified the period of admissible ‘good weather’ charterer’s claim would have been restricted to the initial, leg 1, period”. Once a breach was established by looking at performance in good weather the consequential damages claim was assessed by having regard to the whole of the charter period, excluding any periods of slow steaming on charterers’ instructions excluding any periods of slow steaming on charterers’, whatever the weather, as had been stated by Bingham LJ in The Didymi [1988] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 108 and by Lloyd LJ in The Gas Enterprise [1993] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 352.

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