Owners, charterers, operators, managers and others involved in the shipping industry (particularly those with fixtures to and from Far East ports) should maintain an awareness of the measures and actions being taken by relevant governments and local and regional authorities. Market participants should, in addition, liaise with their brokers and insurers in connection with their existing insurance policy cover and whether additional cover is needed for their operational requirements.
At this time it is reasonable to anticipate delays as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak, arising for example out of scaled back operations at ports as increased quarantine measures are put in place. This may impact, among others, charterparties, bills of lading, shipbuilding contracts, and ship sale and purchase agreements. Relevant contractual terms should in the first instance be carefully reviewed and, if necessary, advice obtained.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared last night that the new coronavirus is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This is, in part, an acknowledgement of the geographic spread of the virus and the need for intensified support for preparation and response, especially in vulnerable countries and regions. Further information is available in the WHO statement at who.int.
Reed Smith will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as developments occur. We are currently preparing guidance on charterparties which will be sent out next week.