Could owners be liable for conversion by retaining bunkers on board the vessel after withdrawal?
In Daebo Shipping Co Ltd v The Ship GO STAR  FCAFC 156, the Federal Court of Australia considered whether, as a matter of English law, head owners could be liable to disponent owners for conversion or detinue as a result of retaining bunkers on board the vessel after lawful withdrawal from the head charter. The court also dealt with a claim for interference with disponent owners’ contractual relations, arising from various notices sent by head owners to the charterers at the end of the chain. The vessel was chartered under a string of time charters on the 1981 NYPE form in the following charterparty chain: SA – BMS – Bluefield – Daebo – Nanyuan…
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Swallowfalls v Monaco Yachting provides further support for the construction of contracts in the manner most consistent with ‘commercial common sense’.
Instances of vessels making contact with and damaging a berth are fairly common. Disputed claims on liability are much rarer.