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Web alert: BIMCO publishes Infectious Diseases Clause

16 January 2015

BIMCO has published two clauses today which it hopes will address contractual issues relating to outbreaks of contagious and serious diseases, such as Ebola. This is in response to a number of other ‘Ebola clauses’ being published and circulated in recent months. The BIMCO publication seeks to provide ‘industry standard’ clauses to be used from this point onwards.

The clauses are designed to respond to a severe outbreak of any highly contagious or virulent disease and therefore would apply to Ebola, SARS, H1N1, and any other as yet unknown disease which may come to the fore in future.

The BIMCO clauses are designed to be incorporated into either time or voyage charterparties and to respond to the consequences of a contagious or virulent disease. BIMCO notes that ‘delays may occur and costs arise not only when the ship is in an area where the risk of infection is high, but also at a later date when the ship calls at ports far outside the region where restrictions may be imposed to reduce the risk of the disease spreading’. The clauses seek to apportion liabilities and costs if an owner choses to proceed into a ‘high risk’ area.

It is recommended that members consider incorporating these clauses into time and voyage charterparties when these are being negotiated. However, as application of the clauses may result in contractual or geographical deviation from a voyage, members should always consult the club to ensure that inclusion of these clauses will be compatible with their cover.

The clauses and detailed explanatory notes are contained in a recent BIMCO circular.

In terms of the ongoing Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the club also continues to recommend that members take all reasonable precautions when considering calling at any port in a jurisdiction where Ebola has been identified, to include enhanced hygiene and sanitation procedures, and to limit contact between crew and the local population where possible. It is also advised that up-to-date information be sought from agents or local correspondents.