164. Palace Shipping Company Limited v Gans Steamship Line [1916] 1 K.B. 138

Safe port – dangers encountered on the way could render a port unsafe – time charter – ship to be employed between safe ports

The facts

On February 11, 1915 the German Government promulgated an announcement that all hostile merchant ships around Great Britain and Ireland would be destroyed.

The charterers ordered the vessel to go to Newcastle from the port of Le Havre.

The owners contended that Newcastle was not a safe port in view of the promulgation set out above and sought to withdraw their vessel from the time charter.

Findings

Sankey J found that, although dangers encountered on the way could render a port unsafe, the promulgation was not carried into effect by the German government and Newcastle was, in fact, a safe port.

Sankey J mentioned that it was immaterial whether the dangers encountered on the way were political or natural and that each case had to be decided on its own facts.

To determine unsafety the court had regard to the intensity of German hostile activity setting a precedent for such cases as Evia No. 2.

In this context, finding the breach in the order made sense because the owners sought to withdraw their vessel as opposed to the more usual claim for damage to the vessel ex post facto.

Counsel for the owners was Roche K.C.

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