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Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcoming New Year 2011

Dear (s)

A few more hours to go – it is time to rollick and celebrate.  Before we (in India) could do that people of Kiribati would be enjoying.  New Year is the day that marks the beginning of a new calendar year – of Gregorian calendar. 

In the Central Pacific Ocean with corals lies the Caroline Island, also known as  Millennium Island – the eastern most one.  This was first sighted by Europeans in 1606, under UK in 1868 and has been part of Republic of Kiribati since independence in 1979.  The pristine settings attract sea birds and is famous for copra.    The New Year dawns here first..  With the time zones, it would progressive move on to the other parts of the Globe.

The celebrations around the World are far varied and widespread.  In Australia spectacular New Year Eve fire works were burst.   Taiwan also planned massive pyrotechnic display in the shape of a dragon.  Some countries are looking ahead for a new diversion to get off their economic and political worries.   In the city of New York, there would  be a midnight ball drop. 
People venture to islands, go for sky walk,  para glide,  plan their party in Ships, night time bash in star hotels charging differently for couple and stags and champagne might flow unabated, hearing DJs blare favourtie tunes,  dance floors with celebrities,  ..  Revelries, dance, consuming whatever one desires, being with whomsoever they adore, making merry – all are individual’s wish and reach.    Enjoy and make merry – it is individual desire and way of reacting to events.


BUT in Chennai (would be similar in many other places as well)  -

At midnight, group of youth would gather on roads, drink, drive crazily, shout and sometimes disturb, annoy, rattle, enrage and even cause harm to others……….  What is this about and what would this merriment provide to any body ?  Everybody knows that drunken driving causes majority of accidents during New Year Eve and most claims are viewed with suspicion by the Insurers when they are reported closer to New Year. 

The City Police keeps a big patrol on road.  Nearly 10,000 police personnel would be deployed on security duty for New year celebrations in the city.  As the metropolis geared up for celebrations of the ushering in of 2011, the City Policy had a consultative meeting with Hotel owners urging to take measures to prevent untoward incidents.

Police Commissioner warned that stringent action would be taken against revellers, if they disrupt public peace and indulge in eve teasing in the guise of celebrations.  Some too unsavoury incidents took place a few years back in Mumbai beach on New year Eve.  Do you know that anyone measuring 30 ml/gm of alcohol can be booked, as per law.

As a large number of people would throng the beach front, traffic restrictions and changes would be imposed in the Marina and East Coast Road are some of the favourite spots for such revellers.  Again   Beach Road, arterial Mount road, Elliots beach, the main and bylanes of ECR  are some of the places where some incidents and some accidents get reported every year.   Besides the road accidents, Chennaites should remember the grisly incident at a famous hotel a couple of years ago.  On that fateful day, the makeshift dance floor on swimming pool collapsed killing 3 of the revellers and injuring few more. 

A showcause notice was issued and investigations were on – whatever could be the reasons and whoever to blame – the loss of life at a prime age could easily have been avoided is to be accepted by all.

So, Welcome to New Year 2011 – enjoy and make merry – be cautious on thy self and care for others also.

Regards – Sampathkumar S

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Insurance Claim Correspondence - the settled "Without Prejudice" Rule




THE  WORLD keeps changing and quite often settled tenets are also challenged.  The business of Insurance companies is to collect premium and to settle claims. The process starts with the Insured intimating the Insurer of the claim and the Insurer issuing the claim form besides the other  formalities.  The claim form would boldly proclaim that “ issuance of this form is not to be  taken as  admission of liability”.   Though not used in e-mail exchanges, all communications from Insurers pertaining to claim used to have the words ‘Without Prejudice”

By definition this words are “ A reservation made on a statement or an offer that it is not an admission or cannot otherwise be used against ”.  in dispute between parties, communication or accomplishment by performance of an act is often seen as admission or a step towards it.  These words are meant to deprive the determinative legal effect and reserving the right of determination independently at a later stage.

This term used in discussion and correspondence in civil dispute or negotiation would mean that the terms or offer so made is not be admitted in evidence without the consent of both the parties concerned.   The words WP when added to letters sought to mean that in the event of a non-agreement, these are not to be relied or quoted on one’s side.

The words,  for the Underwriter, were sought to provide a layer of protection that whatever information was being sought or was being communicated is not determinant of consideration or conclusion of the claim that is being preferred.  The words contained whilst paying a claim would mean that such payment is not be seen as a precedent for future similar claims.  Some Insurers in their wisdom would put ‘without prejudice / without admission of liability  and without precedence to similar claims” – all trying to build a defence fort.

In effect, the communications were intended to be limited, provisional, non-final, inconclusive, non-conditional,  non-binding statements – all in favour of the person making such statements …. The Insurers !!. 

In legal parlance, prejudice is a loss or injury and formal determination against a claimed legal right or cause of action.  In a civil case, dismissal without prejudice is a dismissal that allows refilling of the case in future.  What is being dismissed is the present action but the possibility of filing another suit would remain open.  Most cases are dismissed in finality that they cannot be brought out again.

In Halsbury's Laws of England:  "Letters written and oral communications made during a dispute between parties which are written or made for the purpose of settling the dispute, and which are expressed or otherwise proved to have been made without prejudice cannot generally be admitted in evidence”.

Without Prejudice – are also the words most abused.  Many Attorney will often send letter WP and sometimes Insurers would unwittingly use this even after the claim is concluded and settlement is being effected.

All that is a thing of the past.  In UK  an appeal has raised questions on the scope of the exceptions and the principle that statement made in the course of ‘without prejudice’ negotiations are not admissible  in evidence.   It is a judgment given recently in Oct 2010,  in the High Court of Justice, Court of Appeal in an appeal filed by TMT Asia Limited against Oceanbulk Shipping & Trading SA.

The factual details of this case  are taken from :http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2010/79.html and not reproduced in its entirety but stated in a very concise form.  Though this was no insurance claim in dispute, the decision is felt relevant to all contracts.   The impugned judgment was on a dispute between  parties relating to forward freight agreements (FFA) on the volatility of freight market of bulk carriers.  It was on the swap agreement on settlement rate in relation to Baltic Exchange index of daily rates of time charter hire for vessels.  One of the parties failed to effect settlement and the parties entered into settlement negotiations which were expressed to be ‘without prejudice’ held between the representatives of the parties and solicitors.  

The party which did not make the payment sought to rely upon the representations which the appellant stated that such reliance was excluded by ‘without prejudice’ rule.    They contended that the other contracting party are not entitled to rely upon those representations as they were made in the course of without prejudice negotiations.

It was recorded that the approach to without prejudice negotiations and their effect has undergone significant development over the years.  It  initially focused on the case where the negotiations between two parties were regarded as without prejudice to the position of each of the parties in the event that the negotiations failed. The essential purpose of the original rule was that, if the negotiations failed and the dispute proceeded, neither party should be able to rely upon admissions made by the other in the course of the negotiations.   It was stated to be a  rule governing the admissibility of evidence,  founded upon the public policy of encouraging litigants to settle their differences rather than litigate them to a finish.

Reference was drawn to the  'rule' that words should be given their 'natural and ordinary meaning' reflects the common sense proposition that we do not easily accept that people have made linguistic mistakes, particularly in formal documents.

The Hon’ble Judge held that the interpretation exception should be recognised as an exception to the without prejudice rule stating that  it is not sought  to underplay the importance of the without prejudice rule or to extend the exception beyond evidence which is admissible in order to explain the factual matrix or surrounding circumstances to the court whose responsibility it is to construe the agreement in accordance with the principles. In particular nothing in this judgment is intended otherwise to encourage the admission of evidence of pre-contractual negotiations.

The appeal was allowed.  This judgment clearly conveys that  in construing a contract between two parties, evidence of facts within their common knowledge is admissible where those facts have a bearing on the meaning that should be given to the words of the contract. This is so even where the knowledge of those facts is conveyed by one party to the other in the course of negotiations that are conducted "without prejudice". This principle applies both in the case of a contract that results from the without prejudice negotiations and in the case of any other subsequent contract concluded between the same parties.

There is lot to learnt from this particular case and in particular mere display of some words might not provide the ‘concrete defence’ that has all along been imagined to exist.

Incidentally, read about another latin phrase “ Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali”  - a maxim in contintental European.

The maxim means that  there can be no crime committed, and no punishment meted out, without a violation of penal law as it existed at the time.   i.e., penalties can be imposed only for those offences for which penal provision exists.    Thus,  it is not only the commitment of a crime but also the existence of a previous legal proviso declaring it penal offence which would ensure action against the errant.   


With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remarkable comeback at Durban - India draws level

The Kingsmead Durban has turned a happy hunting ground.  Not many times has India won abroad and even lesser after been 1 down in the Series.

Yesterday I had posted about a possible Indian win – what a day it was - 18 wickets tumbling – first Indians were all out for 205 – Steyn ending up 6/50.  SA started off well – 45/1 at one stage to 102/8 and finally caving in for 131.   Zaheer provided the breakthrough and Harbhajan sealed with 4/10.   Back again, Sehwag blistered for a shortwhile but once he fell, India lost 4 wickets quickly and were 56/4 at one stage.  Laxman and Cheteshwar Pujara brought some semblance of order and survived the day, before another stop due to bad light. 

A humdinger in the making, wild swings of furtunes – SA requiring  192 more with seven wickets in hand – dangerous Kallis and De Villiers at crease; only Laxman showed steely resolve and ease of batting, though there was no demon in the pitch.  But whether India could pull it off was the Q in everyone’s mind. 

This morning Sreesanth removed Kallis and made it more closer.  Bhaji had De Villiers.   Boucher followed, as did Steyn and Harris making it 182/8.  Prince and Morkel offered some resistance but not long enough to hand Indians a comfortable 87 run win engineered by Sreesanth (3), Zaheer (3) and Harbhajan (2)

There were some fears that SA might chase 303  bringing back memories of Perth 2008  when they chased 414 at WACA.

In low chases, it more of mental ability than any dreadful pitch and SA has succumbed as known for wilting under pressure especially in major ODI tournaments.  

Happy time for India – Well done Dhoni in leading another victory at foreign soil and drawing level.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

'Asbestos' and the twisted tale of 'Clemenceau"

I ventured into blogging in Sept. 2009 – prior to that I used to circulate my writings to group of friends through e mail  Here is something so circulated  to my group on 21/06/2006  - some additions have since been made to this post.  This has a lot to do  with building construction and some connection with a French statesman.

AC sheets are commonly found in many houses and mostly in factories as roofing.  Here is some interesting info on AC sheets.  Asbestos Cement Sheeting is also known as AC sheeting.  This is a very common building material, though there has always been health related concerns on its usage.  Until about 1980, asbestos was widely used in building materials to give strength, increase heat insulation, and provide fire resistance. The usage stands banned in some countries.


This is what you commonly see:

and this is how it looks on buildings 


~ do you wonder what this photo has to do here.... !!!!

Asbestos describes any of a group of fibrous metamorphic minerals of the hydrous magnesium silicate variety. The name is derived for its historical use in lamp wicks; the resistance of asbestos to fire has long been exploited for a variety of purposes. Asbestos was used in fabrics such as Egyptian burial cloths and Charlemagne's tablecloth which according to legend, he threw in a fire to clean. Asbestos occurs naturally in many forms (see below); it is mined from metamorphic rocks.   When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. Asbestos is used in brake shoes and gaskets for its heat resistance, and in the past was used on electric oven and hotplate wiring for its electrical insulation at elevated temperature, and in buildings for its flame-retardant and insulating properties, tensile strength, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals.

Asbestos and cement were first combined in the United States in the early 1900s to form an innovative new building material. Asbestos-cement products were used in a host of applications, which took advantage of its durability, fire resistance, ease in processing, forming, installing, and overall economic benefits. Asbestos’ popularity in the building industry stemmed from its inexpensive processing and its special chemical and physical properties, which make it virtually indestructible.

Asbestos Cement is primarily a cement-based product where about 10% to 15% w/w asbestos fibres are added to reinforce the cement. Asbestos cement is weatherproof in that although it will absorb moisture, the water does not pass through the product.  It was used for corrugated sheets, slates, flat sheets for animal pens, claddings, moulded fittings, soffits and undercloak, water cisterns, rainwater gutters, down pipes, pressure pipes, underground drainage and sewer pipes, sills, copings, chalkboards, fascias, infill panels, etc.
AC sheets are largely used for fire proofing. Fireproofing, a passive fire protection measure, subject to bounding, refers to the act of making materials or structures more resistant to fire, or to those materials themselves.


It is widely feared that the inhalation of some kinds of asbestos fibers causes various serious illnesses, including cancer. Thus, most uses of asbestos are banned in many countries. Fiberglass has been found to be a suitable substitute for thermal insulation, and woven ceramic fiber performs as well as or better than asbestos as an insulator of high-temperature electrical conductors.   The asbestos fibres, if inhaled, can be deadly, causing cancers and mesothelioma.


INDIA AS THE DESTINATION FOR SHIP BREAKING

AND FRENCH AIR CRAFT CARRIER

Incidentally,  the starting of the year 2006  saw controversy of  a French aircraft carrier headed for India on its funeral voyage.  If you do not remember, here are some facts on it:

Alang is a port in Bhavnagar District of Gujarat known world over for ship breaking activities.  In case you are enthused to read more about ship breaking click   here : Ship breaking

The ship yards of Alang recycle hundreds of ships providing job opportunities to thousands but considered to be a very hazardous industry.   Ships sail on sea for some years and later they are withdrawn and then dumped to yards for breaking – recovery of scrap steel out of once lively transport carriers.

Georges Benjamin Clemenceau[ (1841 – 1929) was a statesman who served as Prime Minsiter of France from 1906 to 1909 & 1917 – 1920.  He was one fo the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles – no wonder a naval air carrier was named after him. Clemenceau is often credited for the phrase "War is too important to be left to the generals”.

The French aircraft carrier  Clemenceau,  had a displacement of 24200 tons with L 265 M; Beam 51.20 M and could sail speeds of 32 knots with full compliment of close to 2000 crew.

Conceived after the WW II,  Clemenceau was launched in December 1957, entered in service in November 1961 and carried out its first sortie at sea in 1963.  At the time of its entry there were only two air craft carriers in France – saw action in the Lebanese civil war of the 1980s and the first Gulf war of 1991.    once the crown jewel of naval prowess, the ship was decommissioned in 1997 and thence  officially and unromantically known as "Hull Q790."

It had a major fire accident in July 1991 and carried out her last exit with the sea in July 1997.  She was subsequently sold for scrap on June 2003.   Then she was in news as containing toxic waste – reportedly carrying over 250 tonnes of asbestos.  The use and manufacture of asbestos had been banned in several European countries including France.   Following evidence that part of the removal of asbestos would not proceed, as stipulated by the sales contract, in the Spanish port of Gijon, the contract was rescinded and declared void in late October 2003.  More trouble was to follow as in Dec 2005, Greenpeace activists boarded the decommissioned Clemenceau at Toulon to protest plans to send the ship to scrap at Alang, India, despite the presence of residual asbestos. The ship had been partially cleared of asbestos and the decontamination firm claimed that the ship’s structure would be unacceptably weakened if further removal took place. Greenpeace and other environmental groups argued it carried far more asbestos than the 45 tons French officials first reported.


Clemenceau steamed out of the port of Toulon and was the object of simmering dispute.    It was stopped at Port Said for Egyptian authorisation to pass through the Suez canal and then sailed to Alang. There were widespread protests in India and made subject matter of  Indian Apex Court which in Jan 2006 ruled that information about the vessel was inadequate and directed that the vessel stay at least 200 NM off the shore of India until more information is made available.  There were growing concerns from Environmental activists, including those from Greenpeace India and the Ban Asbestos Forum  that India was  seen as a convenient dumping ground, thanks to weak laws concerning hazardous waste.   Subsequently it was denied entry into Indian Port and had to return. After months of uncertainty French President Jacques Chirac ordered the ship returned home.  This time it had to take a circuitous route via the Cape of Goodhope.

Clemenceau returned  and docked back at the same berth in the Brest port that it had occupied in 1961, when it began its 36 years of service with the navy.

The Clemenceau returned to France, and it was unclear just where it will finally be dismantled.  It laid ignominiously at Brest for two more years and then Able UK got the contract to dismantle her at its TERRC (Teesside Environmental Reclamation & Recycling Centre) facility at Graythorpe, Hartlepool. Special dispensation was given to Able by the UK HSE to handle the asbestos content of the carrier which would normally have been prohibited by its Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The vessel was moved to Able UK after this was authorised by court proceedings and Clemenceau arrived at Graythorp in Feb 2009.

The dismantling of the ship started in Nov 2009 and was expected to be completed by end 2010.  On the 5 February 2010,  a fire on board was reported.  Up to 50 firefighters tackled the fire – there reportedly were no injuries and could be contained.

Able UK  had claimed that this project was one of the largest of its kind in Europe.  In some ways she stormed everything from glory to ignominy and the controversies surrounding her are still to be put to total rest.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Presenting our Dec 2010 issue of BLISS - voice of SYMA from Triplicane

Dear (s)

The Dec  2010 issue of BLISS, the voice of  Srinivas Youngmen’s  Association is  here BLISS 122010  at a click of a mouse :   

The year that passed by saw India shining in Sports arena and Sachin making 50th of his Test Centuries in style.  

Besides the various Health camps, this year, this month saw the conduct of ‘cancer awareness programme’ in coordination with VS Hospitals.  We have grave concern on the health of citizens with Diabetes threatening to afflict more and more.  Our present issue has   amongst other things :-

v      An article about Sree Sarada Sevashram and our visit over there
v      About Narayan Krishnan who has been providing food and dignity to the poor at Madurai and a follow up of the Hero of CNN 2010
v      Something on a carnatic music aficionado
v      The camp conducted in coordination with VS Hospital
v      Some early details of our Child Fest 2011 – scheduled to be held in two parts
v      Thanking ‘Attune Technologies’ who provided software to our medical centre.  

       +  Question on the mascot of 2011 Cricket World Cup

Look forward to your response.

Regards
Editor.

Ps :  For those new, SYMA is a Social Service Organisation with more than 3 decades of existence and BLISS is the newsletter of SYMA

The Sport of Fox Hunting !!! What is Valour

Have you heard of Beagling and of Ashford Valley Hunt ?  Read this Thirukural  (no. 772) which speaks of valour.

It means ‘it is more valourous to hold the dart that missed an elephant than the one which killed a hare in the forest’.

To most of the Western World, traditional things of other countries are barbaric – ‘jallikattu’ is no sport.   Beagling is the hunting of hares, rabbits, and occasionally foxes with beagles.  Beagle is a pack of hounds followed on foot.  It is stated that this is enjoyment of hunting by fox hunters who have retired either due to injuries or had lost the agility to ride horse but still want to enjoy hunting. 

Fox hunting is a sport – a social ritual.  Hounds enter bushy areas where the unsuspecting foxes would lay during daylight.  The pack of hounds follow the scent of a fox and terrorise them out – the riders follow with their athletic skills.  The fox running for its ife could take refuge in underground burrow or get killed by the hounds or get hunted.  Besides hounds,  some times terriers are also used to flush or kill foxes that hide in underground as they are small enough to pursue in the narrow earth passages.

Fox hunting is described as an activity of tracking, chasing and sometimes [! !]  killing fox -  traditionally a red fox, by trained fox hounds or other scent hounds and a group of followers led by a master of foxhounds, who follows on foot or on horseback.  Its origin are traced back to 16th century UK and is practised in many parts of the World like Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Russia and USA.  In some parts even fire arms are used.  The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a small omnivorous predator, active around twilight, living in burrows. They can run close to 50 kmph.  The american cousins tend to be bigger. 

The Ashford Valley Hunt is a United Kingdom fox hunt, with hunting country in Kent, England.  The hunt was formed in 1873 from the combination of four private harrier packs, which amalgamated under a single master as the Ashford Valley Harriers, hunting predominantly hares but also occasional foxes. After the First World War, the pack began to hunt foxes only and renamed itself the Ashford Valley Foxhounds.

This Sport was banned in Scotland in 2002 and in UK in 2004.  Supporters say that it is pat of rural culture and useful for conservation and pest control.  For animal   welfare groups, this is not a sport but unfair and cruel killing of animals.  The chase itself would cause fear and distress and killing is gruesome as the small helpless animals get torn to pieces.  They say that animals should also enjoy some basic rights.  

The Hunting Act 2004  is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The effect of the Act is to outlaw hunting with dogs (particularly fox hunting, but also the hunting of deer, hares and mink and organised hare coursing) in England and Wales from 18 February 2005.   That is on record but in 2008, it was reported that record numbers turned out for the Boxing day hunt – the crowd was reported to be more than 300,000.  Pro-hunt groups renewed calls to repeal the 2004 Act with signature campaign.

சிரமறுத்தல் வேந்தருக்கு பொழுதுபோக்கு மற்றவர்க்கோ உயிரின் வாதை"  (Beheading is entertainment for Kings but it is pain of life for the victims)

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

Cricket update - Will India win at Kingsmead - the Ranji Semis line up

For a Sports lover, Test Cricket offers pristine glory and entertainment. The two tests of Boxing day are ending differently.    At Melbourne, Aussies are staring at the barrel after been bundled out for a sub 100 total in their first essay.

The Kingsmead Durban was differently feared – with so much of grass that prompted the Indian spinner to be the field for grazing goats.  The greenery generated expectations of an Indian failure and the first day saw Indians struggling  - Dhoni’s 12th loss in 13 ensured that Indians had to face the fury on a greentop and ended up at 165 for 6 with a thin ray of hope.

The second day was disastrous – 18 wickets tumbling – first Indians were all out for 205 – Steyn ending up 6/50.  SA started off well – 45/1 at one stage to 102/8 and finally caving in for 131.   Zaheer provided the breakthrough and Harbhajan sealed with 4/10.   Back again, Sehwag blistered for a shortwhile but once he fell, India lost 4 wickets quickly and were 56/4 at one stage.  Laxman and Cheteshwar Pujara brought some semblance of order and survived the day, before another stop due to bad light.  Now the Test hinges on fine balance………… and Indian supporters sensing a comeback win.

Followers of domestic cricket in India know well that Ranji is all about Mumbai.  But this season’s (2010-11) line-up is far different. It is going to be :

Rajasthan v Tamil Nadu in Jaipur,          January 3-6, 2011
Baroda     v  Karnataka in Vadodara,       January 3-6, 2011

The discarded Pankaj Singh had his moment of glory under the sun taking six wickets.  Rajasthan had finished at the bottom of Plate division last year and Mumbai were the winners of the trophy last year.   But Rajasthan scored 589 with centuries from Saxena, Kanitkar and Menaria and Pankaj Singh bowled them out for 252 thus ensuring a first innings lead.  Generally in domestic, the team playing first piles up strong total and Mumbai is always known for its batting prowess. This time Wasim Jaffer won the toss and elected to bat which proved their undoing.  Thus the 39 time champions are not in the race for the trophy this year.  It is a real moment of glory for  Rajasthan for this is the first time they have taken first innings lead over Mumbai in 50 years.

At Rohtak, Haryana scored 379/6 and declared its innings and in a match not going its full length due to weather, the entry was determined by faster run rate.  TN were through with 285/6 in 79 overs  with ICL player Rajagopal Sathish making a  valuable century.  The rule was that if 30 overs had not been bowled, the team with the higher net run rate from the league stage would have been through, which again was Tamilnadu.

In the other runups, Baroda beat Railways by virtue of first innings lead and  Karnataka gained an outright win against Madhya Pradesh though they were stretched for some time.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What is Charter Party - Marine Transport Terms (for the learner)

Prologue : There have been some Questions on contract of carriage which quite often confuses the ordinary.  This is an attempt to educate those of us who are not conversant with the Laws, the ways goods are carried and et al.

Marine is transport of goods and Marine insurance is insuring those goods in transit from one place to another.  The transportation would be through various modes such as : Land, air and Sea.

A contract for the carriage of goods by sea is called ‘contract of affreightment’.
Ordinarily a carrier by sea is a common carrier – liable absolutely, for the loss of the goods subject ofcourse to many exceptions that the relevant Statutes would provide for, further limited by the Conventions in vogue and the fine prints of terms to which such contract is subjected to.  

The carriage most often is in one of the two forms – Charter Party or a Bill of Lading.  For the common man, Charterparty is hiring of the entire ship.  In every such contract there are certain undertakings on the part of the Carrier which are implied. They generally are : Sea worthiness of the ship, reasonable dispatch i.e., there would be no unreasonable delay in commencing voyage, no deviation (following agreed or customary route, obligation to take reasonable care of cargo entrusted, and not to load goods liable to cause danger or delay to ship.

Booking of a ship to the exclusive use of One shipper for a particular voyage or voyages or for a certain time is known as “Charter Party”

There are many variants – there can be demise or bareboat where the charterer has to engage the crew also i.e., the maintenance and running also is in the hands of the charterer.

Just like we have Time and Voyage policies in Marine Insurance – going by the term, Charter Parties are divided into : Voyage and Time Charters.  These being agreement between two or more parties, are better drafted properly.  There are standard forms of charter parties which are recognized officially by International Organisations such as BIMCO, Chamber of Shipping, though many variants would well be in use.  There are agreed and adopted formats of charter parties.

To go by a legal definition, here is something as from lectlaw.com : 

A written contract between the owner of a vessel and the one (the charterer) desiring to empty the vessel setting forth the terms of the arrangement, i.e., freight rate and ports involved in the contemplated trip.
A contract of affreightment in writing by which the owner of a ship or other vessel lets the whole, or a part of her, to a merchant or other person for the conveyance of goods on a particular voyage in consideration of the payment of freight. This term is derived from the fact that the contract which bears this name was formerly written on a card and afterwards the card was cut into two parts from top to bottom, and one part was delivered to each of the parties, which was produced when required, and by this means counterfeits were prevented.
This instrument ought to contain, 1. the name and tonnage of the vessel; 2. the name of the captain; 3. the names of the letter to freight and the freighter; 4. the place and time agreed upon for the loading and discharge; 5. the price of the freight; 6. the demurrage or indemnity in case of delay; 7. such other conditions as the parties may agree upon.
When a ship is chartered this instrument serves to authenticate many of the facts on which the proof of her neutrality must rest and should therefore be always found on board chartered ships. When the goods of several merchants unconnected with each other, are laden on board without may particular contract of affreightment with any individual for the entire ship; the vessel is called a general ship, because it is open to all merchauts, but where one or more merchants contract for the ship exclusively it is said to be a chartered ship.
Though this Charter Party article is intended to be associated with Ship, for easier understanding, we can equate with the analogy of  hiring of a truck for a single transit  as against contracting it out for a period,  say 6 months.
Voyage Charter  :  Under a Voyage Charter, vessel is taken on hire / let out for a specific voyage.  The ship owner gets freight which would take care of costs, fuel, crew maintenance as also profit.  There is something known as ‘laytime’ provided for loading and discharging operations.  The entire operation is expected to commence and conclude within a specified time.  When these are not so, the ship is put to use for a longer time or in otherwords, the ship owner is not in a position to subject the vessel to useful employment and for the delay so caused, he needs to be compensated.  This is generally known as demurrage charges and the rates would also be prescribed in the charter.
The preliminary or the principal payment to the Ship owner is the freight which can be fixed price for a specific voyage carrying a particular cargo.  It can be agreed on lumpsum or on quantitative basis.   The freight generally is earned at the end of the voyage upon delivery.  However depending on demand and supply, in most cases, this is paid in advance or soon after the cargo is loaded on.
When the Ship owner is not paid, they have a lien on cargo – that is legal right to detain cargo pending payment.  In case where there is sub-contracting, a right to intercept subfreights due to the charterer from the sub-charterers (a lien on freight)

Time Charter :  This will not be a definitive geographical voyage but a period of time.  Here the payment cannot be freight but the hire charges calculated for a period of time.
The hire would be from the time when vessel is ready and delivered at a specified place and would terminate when redelivered or made available for re-possession. Depending upon the arrangement, the fuel costs, operational costs, maintenance etc., will be borne by the Charterer or the Ship owner.
Here there may not be concept of demurrage and the charterer would be more affected by any slow handling or delays in Ports or other delays affecting the movement of vessel from one place to another.
If the Charterer fails to pay the hire on time or in full, there will be a breach of charter.  Only exceptional breaches will justify the termination of the CP agreement.  Notice as specified will have to be given, otherwise the charter will continue to be in force.
In both the forms of Charter, the ownership is not transferred and a Charterer does not obtain any proprietary interest in the vessel so chartered.
The contracting terms of the CP will determine how the vessel can be used during the period of charter.  Generally the charterer will have great freedom on the use of vessel in a time or period charter as in a voyage charter, even the cargo could get predefined.
Epilogue :  This is meant to be a simple explanation for the uninformed.  Where you find that explanations are incorrect, please do correct
Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

The sad plight of GSLV F06

25th Dec 2010 was a forgettable day for Indian Space scientists as the Geostationary Satellite Launch vehicle (GSLV) F06 with GSAT 5P failed minutes after blast off.
                                                                   the launchpad at ISRO
The Space activities of the Nation started in 1960s thanks to visionary leaders like Dr Vikram Sarabhai.  Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the premier Govt. organization – there are two satellite launch vehicles, PSLV and GSLV.  PSLV launches IRS type satellites and GSLV launches INSAT type satellites.  GSLV-F06  was  to deploy the 5,093-pound GSAT 5P communications payload.  The 167-foot-tall launcher blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at 04.04 p.m. GSLV was powered by a Russian cryogenic engine.   
                                                                 Photo from dailymail.uk

Alas,  it was not a moment to savour as within minutes after lift off, the vehicle veered off its flight path, lost control and engulfed in to a fireball.   Reportedly, GSLV was propelled by a single solid-fueled core motor and four L40 strap-on boosters.  The engines burn hydrazine and their nozzles pivot to steer the rocket during the first two-and-a-half minutes of flight.

The rocket crashed into the Bay of Bengal closer to the launch site.  There have been set backs not for our Nation but even for so called advance Nations.  Nothing political needs to be read in to the failure or its costs as explorations do fail some times.   We heartfully wish ISRO more successes in near future and bigger launches…………

In an added dimension, it is stared that the  cryogenic engine that went up in flames with GSLV-F06 was the sixth of the seven such engines the country had procured from Russia. Post-Pokhran-II,  Russia has denied the supply of such engines and ISRO is looking to  indigenous cryogenic engines  -  the stock pile now is solitary and there are more satellites to be launched in 2011.

It is always touch situations that has brought out best from tough people and am sure that Indian Scientists will succeed.

With regards
S Sampathkumar.

Incidentally, I was in Thiruvallur inside the temple tank around 0405 pm and we could see the rocket first on the sky, then plummeting suddenly and erupting into a fire ball.  Here is a photo taken from the tank.  One can see the trail left by the rocket (see near the temple gopuram)



Friday, December 24, 2010

Fire Binghamton - the possible consequences of Fire

When a fire strikes, the reaction generally is one of chaos and confusion.  Not many would have a plan of response to such a disaster.  The Insurers on their part expect that any such loss is reported to them immediately, they in turn arrange for a surveyor / Loss assessor / Investigator.  The expectation is that such personnel visit the scene of loss immediately collating valuable information and analyse the cause and nature of loss besides the extent of loss.

What is generally thought of is damage to Building, Electrical installations, Furniture, fixtures and fittings, Utilities like Genset, transformers,  Plant and machinery, Office equipments and various stock such as raw material, stock in trade, packing material and incidental things, finished goods etc.,  There would also be interruption in the business which would put the wheels back impeding the trading / production activities and thereby forcing losses.  Here is some more new perspective to a fire loss.

Binghamton is a city located in the Southern Tier of New York in the United States. It is located near the Pennsylvania border, situated in a bowl-shaped valley at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers.   This is a famous manufacturing centre and hub of transportation.   There are many malls and one of them is Midtown mall.   A devastating fire has been reported.

At the material time, the building remained long-vacant collection of buildings as they are being converted to student housing.   There were no report of injuries and the cause of fire is under investigation.  The Midtown mall is five connected buildings and has been empty since 1981.  Reportedly construction activity for 55 units of student housing and 18000 sq.ft of commercial space was started this year.

The fire further impacted adjacent buildings also and an office located on the 5th floor of 12 storey Press Building has had its operations impeded.  Due to the extensive smoke and water damages, the records of the website providing tax data of the city has been rendered non-functional.  The website www.taxlookup.net – states that is temporarily unavailable due to extensive smoke and water damage arising out of Midtown mall fire.  This website has been providing property tax accounting software for municipalities and school districts.  This Company collects taxes on behalf of municipalities and school districts and puts tax roll information on the Internet for public access.  Tax payers can pay their taxes by credit cards. 

The fire has struck at the start of a renovation phase which was purchased by a land developer who has taken mortgage loan.   The mall is centuries old having been built as the Masonic temple and has had fire accidents in the past also.    The present developer reportedly was required to take out  a $13.7 million insurance policy as a requirement for a construction loan.

This provides additional lessons to look for in the time of a fire claim and the possibilities of damages arising out of a fire.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.