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Enforcing Internet Terms and Conditions in Maritime Contracts

Posted in Maritime Contracts

The U.S. Fifth Circuit, in One Beacon Ins. Co. v. Crowley Marine Servs., Inc., concluded that, under the general maritime law applicable to ship repair contracts, the indemnity and insurance requirements of the vessel owner will be enforceable if they are set forth on an Internet website and clearly incorporated by reference into the vessel owner’s repair service order, even though the contractor would have to conduct a search of that web-site to find the actual language.

The Fifth Circuit considered arguments that the website listed on the service order did not direct the contractor directly to the indemnity and insurance provisions and those provisions were typed in 4-point font, so you agree to indemnify and insure me from everything under the Sun, but concluded the standard was one of reasonableness, not perfection.

In order to avoid similar arguments in the future, a more user-friendly approach is recommended.