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Universe Tankships V. Itwf Notes

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UNIVERSE TANKSHIPS V. INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORT WORKERS FEDERATION FACTS The shipowners are a Liberian company. The tankship which they owned, the Universe Sentinel was of 269,092 tons deadweight: the crew consisted in the main of Asians employed at rates of pay substantially less than those upon which I.T.F. insists, and are provided for in what it calls the I.T.F. Collective Agreement. In July 1978, the Universe Sentinel was on time charter to Texaco and arrived on July 17 at the Texaco terminal at Milford Haven to discharge her cargo there. On her arrival the master was handed, by a representative of I.T.F., a copy of a standard form of document headed: "Conditions to be fulfilled before flag-of-convenience vessels can be issued with I.T.F. blue certificates." An I.T.F. blue certificate, though this is nowhere spelt out in the documents, is well understood by shipowners, charterers and shippers and by the constituent trade unions of I.T.F., to exempt a vessel sailing under a flag of convenience from being subject to the blacking policy of I.T.F. The Universe Sentinel finished discharging on July 18, but because of being blacked by tugboat crews, she was prevented from sailing until July 29, when the blacking was lifted in consequence of a meeting held at the offices of I.T.F. in London on the previous day between representatives of the shipowners and officials of I.T.F. at which the shipowners yielded to the demands of I.T.F. that they should pay to I.T.F. the sum of $80,000 and enter into two agreements with I.T.F., viz., one headed "special agreement" on a standard printed form and the second in typescript ("the typescript agreement"). Of the grand total of $8,280, the sum of $6,480 is attributable to the contribution to Seafarers' International Welfare Protection and Assistance Fund ("the welfare fund"); and this is the sum that the shipowners seek to recover in their appeal to this House. HOLDING LORD DIPLOCK Economic Duress My Lords, I turn to the second ground on which repayment of the
$6,480 is claimed, which I will call the duress point. It is not disputed that the circumstances in which I.T.F. demanded that the shipowners should enter into the special agreement and the typescript agreement and should pay the moneys of which the latter documents acknowledge receipt, amounted to economic duress upon the shipowners; that is to say, it is conceded that the financial consequences to the shipowners of the Universe Sentinel

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