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Change of Voyage

The plaintiffs, who sold their semi-submersible heavy lift vessel Shakir III to a Chinese company for demolition, had also contracted with a tug company to tow the vessel from Jebil Ali to Wuson(Shanghai) or Huang Pu. When Shakir III was insured by the plaintiffs with the defendants under a valued policy, which incorporated the Institute Voyage Clauses Hulls—Total Loss Only, the policy only cover…until safe arrival at Shanghai outer anchorage plus seven days, in single tow of approved Tug anf for break-up. No mention Huang Pu was made in the policy. The said policy also contained a Change of Voyage Clause.

On 19 May, the tug departed Jebil Ali. In event, on 25 May 1993,Shakir III was ordered to be towed to Huang Pu and not Shanghai, but the plaintiffs did not inform the insurers of the change of voyage until Shakir III had actually arrived at Huang Pu on 25 June 1993, by which time the anchorage there was known to be the dangerous because of the proximity of a typhoon. When the plaintiffs eventually informed the insurers of the change of voyage, no mention was made of the adverse conditions at Huang Pu, nor of the fact that Shakir III had already been involved in a minor collision with a Chinese merchant ship. When the typhoon struck, the towlines and Shakir III was swept 45 miles away and stranded on an island. The plaintiffs claimed on their policy, but the insurers refuse payment.

The court held, inter alia, that the acceptance by the insurers of the late notice of change of voyage did not amount to a waiver of their rights under s 45 of the Marine Insurance Act. Moreover, as the notice tendered was not immediate, the assured was not held covered by the Change of Voyage Clause.