The Court of Appeal’s judgment in Transpetrol Maritime Services Limited v SJB (Marine Energy) BV (the “Rowan”) [2012] EWCA Civ 198 is interesting in two respects:

1. It considered the meaning of clause 18 of the Vitol terms, which provides under the heading “Oil Company Approvals Clauses” that “Owner warrants that the Vessel is approved by the following companies and will remain so throughout the duration of this charterparty. (Owner(s) to advise, including inspection dates and expiry dates).The court heard expert evidence that letters from Oil Majors in guarded terms are still regarded as “approvals” for the purposes of such clauses, albeit that implicitly this brought into question the relevance of clause 18 of the Vitol terms, given the Oil Majors’ current practices.

In his leading judgment, Lord Justice Longmore expressed the view that the clause is concerned with the existence or non-existence of the “approvals” contained in documents and is not a warranty as to the underlying condition of the vessel.

2. Consideration was also given to the meaning of the phrase “TBOOK” (“to best of owner’s knowledge”). It was held that, in the context of a voyage charterparty which provided “TBOOK WOG Vesse is approved by: [list of oil majors]”, that this meant:

(a) that the owner has to the best of his knowledge, at the date of the charter, procured approval from the named oil companies; and

(b) that, at the date of the charter, he knows of no facts which would cause the vessel to lose the approval of those oil companies in the course of the duration of the charter, i.e. what was described as “a limited degree of futurity”.