How companies are shielded from delays like the Suez delay

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An interesting case to consider, regarding the chartering regime, is undoubtedly what happened last month in the Suez Canal, when the vessel Ever Given ran aground and blocked this key channel in maritime trade, for several days generating consequences in the global economy.

Now, what are the core aspects that must be contemplated in the charter parties, taking into account that what happened has put under the magnifying glass of the experts, the agreements that work as an instruction manual when a catastrophe occurs and give the key to know who responds for the losses.

Maritime law includes numerous figures to regulate these voyages, if we are facing a contract of carriage of goods by sea, disasters such as tsunamis or boardings by pirates are treated as possible cases of force majeure, and therefore may release the carrier from liability if they are events beyond its control.

Another option is for a company to charter a vessel on a monthly basis to transport goods, which can be instrumented with a bareboat charter. If unforeseen events arise, in these cases it is normal in these cases that the person renting the vessel continues to pay the freight on time, unless otherwise agreed.

Another point in these contracts is to decide what is the legal framework and which courts should intervene once the conflict breaks out, aspects that are studied with great foresight as they are the frequent origin of disputes.

It is common for each company to fight to take the lawsuit to its own country and under its own rules, and thus play at home. Choosing a neutral country and clearly stating this in the contract helps to anticipate problems. London arbitration courts are the most famous for resolving these disputes, but venues such as Hong Kong or Shanghai are gaining weight in recent years.

The legal tangle becomes more complicated when third party claims are added to the equation. That is, those who were not part of the contract, but were affected because their goods never arrived. An assembly line paralyzed because it has run out of spare parts, for example.

These injured parties can claim against their insurance if they had taken out insurance, and these, in turn, will sue the insurances of the parties directly involved in the accident.

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