In a bid to protect crew members from the Ebola outbreak and to reduce commercial exposure to the virus, shipping trade associations are modifying contracts so that companies do not have to travel to Ebola-infected countries.
gCaptain has reported Reuters as stating that shipping lines have already begun to change contracts in an effort to protect themselves.
Tanker fleet owner Intertanko has recently introduced a clause that would see ships sailing to alternative ports if there is a risk that the Ebola virus could affect its crew.
General Counsellor of Intertanko Michele White, said: “We have seen clauses designed to deal for example with war risks where the drafter has simply crossed out ‘war’ and replaced it with ‘Ebola’ without much thought. That kind of approach can only lead to uncertainty and disputes.”
Intertanko is not the only organisation to introduce a clause to protect against Ebola; shipping association BIMCO is about to follow-suit with a more general clause that does not focus specifically on Ebola.
Chief Officer of Legal and Contractual Affairs at BIMCO, Grant Hunter, said: “We consider the generic clause approach to be more pragmatic than issuing a ‘single issue’ clause.
“Charter party clauses should have a long shelf life. Ebola is quite likely to be one of a number of infectious or contagious diseases that will have an impact on international trade in the years to come.”
The Ebola outbreak has so far killed more than six-and-a-half thousand people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, West Africa, with more than 18,000 people infected.