[Answer] When Is the Deviation of the Ship’s Route Justified Or Unjustified?

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Ships often deviate from their routes to make it more commercially viable but the question remains if this is justified or not. What are the instances when such deviations are justified and hence goes unpunished is a question that bothers most shipowners. Maritime Herald has clarified this in their new article which showcases the present scenario and what needs to be done.

Charters Incorporating Deviation Stipulations

According to the Maritime Herald article, charter agreements should incorporate stipulations regarding this matter.

”Maritime Law means deviation from the route of the ship -deviation-, the intentional modification of the route agreed and designated in the contract, or in the absence of such agreement, the change of the usual route and frequently used more directly to the port of destination”, defines the lawyer, referee and professor of Maritime Law, José Antonio Pejovés .

Shipowners Rights & Obligations

As he explains, the chartering agreements -charter parties- documented with policies or forms, usually incorporate clauses related to the obligations and rights of the shipowner, ”among them, stipulations related to the deviation of the ship “.

Chartering Time Conditions

It adds that in chartering time – time charters – in which the optimal use of the vessel is an object of the contract; In addition to making the trips as quickly as the safety of navigation allows, ” the displacement of the ship must follow the most expeditious route, and must be done without interruptions and without deviations that are not justifiable, ” he points out.

When is it Justified?

The shipowner – explains Pejovés – will not be responsible for both the time charter and the chartering contracts for travel – voyage charter -, deviations are justified when

  1. it is due to exceptional circumstances that can not be controlled by the captain and the ship’s crew;
  2.  it’s needed to save human lives at risk due to an accident, to avoid or reduce maritime pollution due to an accident, to disembark diseased crew or passengers,
  3.  In general for reasons that obey any security need on board the ship.

“The diversion of the route will also be justified if this is expressly authorized in the chartering contract. When the causes justifying the diversion cease, the ship must resume its journey along the route that was agreed upon or, if appropriate, through the route usually used”, says the lawyer.

When it is Unjustified?

Pejovés clarifies that ” if the deviation is unjustified, that is, if it is due, for example, to an act of negligence or serious fault of the shipowner, it is usual for the policies to agree with the fare of the charterer to terminate the charter for breach”.

How is the offense determined punishable?

The qualification as to whether a deviation of the ship’s route is justified or unjustified, ” is a matter that will be clarified by the judge or arbitrator in charge of resolving the dispute, for which purpose it will have to analyze the chartering contract and the facts .”

However, Pejovés affirms that “Maritime Law since antiquity has sought to severely repress unjustified diversion since it understands that it is normally linked to conduct of deliberate non-compliance on the part of the captain or shipowner, based on their own advantage and to the detriment of time. and the opportunity of the charterer “.

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Source: Maritime Herald

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