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Capture by pirates connected to Gulf of Aden crossing an off-hire event – construction of special clauses

The facts

The vessel was time chartered back to back with a time charter trip on top.

The vessel was ordered to load iron-ore for carriage from the Ukraine to Xiamen, China.

The vessel transited Suez and the Gulf of Aden and was then captured by pirates in the Arabian Sea.

She was delayed for 7 months.

Owners claimed hire for most of this period.

Charterers contended that two special clauses made the capture an off-hire event: one relating to capture simpliciter and one relating transiting the Gulf of Aden


A tribunal found that both clauses protected the charterers.

In appeal under section 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 Popplewell J rejected the charterers’ argument on the first clause but upheld the second.


The wording of the clauses was reasonably clear and the decision seems right.

The decision contains a useful discussion on onus and the allocation of risk.


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