Ebola Clauses – where do you stand?

As Ebola continues to spread, over 13,000 people have now contracted the deadly disease.

Major airports are operating Ebola screenings for arrivals from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but as of yet no shipping ports have followed suit.

The International Maritime Organisation has ordered that all ports are to remain open to allow trading to continue.

This however, is causing uncertainty within the shipping industry especially since deaths in West Africa have totalled 5,000.

Oil, cocoa and minerals are regularly exported from the region and the spread of Ebola is causing legal and financial stress for those companies who work there.

Shipping companies are now adapting their contracts to ensure that they are protected if their vessels are required to dock at affected areas – known as the Ebola Clause.

The Ebola Clause requires that companies chartering the shipping liners must provide protective clothing, pay all medical expenses, find alternative ports if there is a risk of coming into an affected area, and cover financial loss if deliveries are delayed.

By keeping contracts updated this will ensure the safety of workforces and profits – a task that should be adopted by every business.

Contracts should be reviewed and updated for a variety of different reasons such as:


  1. To manage finances and avoid falling into difficulty

The Ebola clause is covering any financial difficulties that the shipping industry could fall in to if Ebola affects them. By reviewing your contracts you will be able to adapt or add clauses to contracts that will protect your business as the world evolves.

  1. To ensure the business is in line with all legal requirements

Laws are constantly adapting and changing, especially UK consumer laws; at the moment major reforms are under way with the Consumer Rights Bill due to come into force next year. All businesses must adhere in order to be successful and it may be that your contracts do not reflect the most up to date regulations.

  1. To ensure business relationships are sustained in a way that both parties are aware of their role

By reviewing contracts a business can set out clearly how they expect the relationships to work and cut ties with a relationship that is not beneficial. By doing this a business can be more cost effective.

  1. To protect the business reputation

A review can also help your business reputation. By having a solid contract that is accessible a business can avoid costly disputes, which could damage the brand.

Whether it is Ebola or another uncertainty that may affect your business, you should ensure that you have made sufficient efforts to protect your business.