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Master employed by demise charterer- effect of signature on bill of lading

The facts

The vessel was chartered by demise to the charterers for four months giving them the option to purchase on expiry of the charter. The charterers appointed and remunerated the master and the crew (save for the engineer) and had full control over the vessel.

Cotton was shipped from New Orleans to Bremen under bills of lading some of which were signed by the master and some of which by the agents of the charterers.

The ship foundered and the cotton was lost.

The shippers sought to hold the owners liable, alleging unseaworthiness of the vessel.


The court of first instance found the owners liable on contract. The decision was reversed by the Court of Appeal. The House of Lords confirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal.

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Charter Party Casebook