In London Arbitration 10/08 – 749 LMLN 1(2) the vessel was chartered on the NYPE form. It loaded a cargo of pipe cargo, and the master signed two certificates certifying that the cargo had been loaded and secured in accordance with a stowage plan under the master’s approval and supervision and that no damage to the cargo or vessel had been caused. Both certificates were endorsed to be without prejudice to the governing charter conditions and exceptions. The shippers’ surveyor also prepared a report stating that the cargo had been adequately secured in a seamanlike manner, and according to the prevailing custom of the trade.

The pipes started to shift shortly after sailing and the vessel had to return to port to restow. The charterers withheld hire, relying on the off hire clause. Owners denied that the vessel was off hire, saying the failure of the stow was caused by charterers’ breach of clause 8.

The Tribunal rejected the charterers’ argument that the master’s signature on the two certificates constituted an estoppel which precluded the owners from contending that the cargo had not been properly stowed. The certificates did not contain such a representation. The mere approval of a charterers’ proposed stowage plan, as opposed to positive intervention or positive advice, was not capable of giving rise to any estoppel so as, in effect, to transfer contractual responsibility for stowage from the charterer to the owner. On the evidence the charterers were in breach of their obligation under clause 8 and the vessel was not off hire.