UK: More Pitfalls For Owners Looking To Terminate For Unpaid Hire

Last Updated: 7 November 2014
Article by Paul Herring and David Richards

Januzaj v. Valilas [2014] EWCA Civ 436

It is a debatable point whether or not the obligation to pay hire under a time charter is a condition of the contract or not, notwithstanding the obiter comments of Mr Justice Flaux in the Astra [2013] EWHC 865 (see the Shipping E-Brief July 2013). Making payment under a commercial contract is said to be "not of the essence of the contract" and therefore not a condition. The significance is that a breach of condition allows the innocent party to terminate the contract in addition to claiming damages. Otherwise, he may be limited to his damages claim but unable to terminate the contract unless the failure to make payment, or indeed making repeated late payment under an instalment contract, amounts to a repudiatory breach of the contract.

The traditional view is that, in order to terminate a time charter and claim damages for losses suffered following a failure to pay hire, the charterer's conduct must be shown to be (i) repudiatory in the sense that the breach deprives the owner of substantially the whole benefit of the charter; and/or (ii) renunciatory in the sense that it evinces an intention on the charterer's part no longer to perform the charter at all or to perform the charter in a manner substantially inconsistent with his contractual obligations.

It will very much depend on the facts and circumstances in any given case whether the non-payment or late payment of hire instalments under a time charter amounts to a repudiatory breach. This often requires the owner to make a difficult decision as to whether the charterer's failure to pay a number of hire instalments, or paying them late, entitles him, the owner, to terminate the charter. If the owner "calls it wrong", he can find himself in repudiatory breach for wrongful termination and facing a claim for damages from the charterer.

Januzaj v. Valilas is not a shipping case but deals with general principles concerning the law on repudiation. It arguably introduces a further potential pitfall for owners seeking to rely on multiple failures to pay hire, or repeated late payments of hire, in order to demonstrate repudiatory conduct on the part of a charterer.

The background facts

The Claimant was a dentist operating his practice from the Defendant's premises. The Claimant had agreed to pay the Defendant half his earnings from his practice in return for use of the premises. The Claimant's earnings came from the UK's National Health Service (the "NHS") under an arrangement whereby the Claimant was paid in advance in equal monthly instalments for his work. If, at the end of the year, the Claimant had not done sufficient work, then any over-payment of his advance earnings had to be refunded to the NHS.

A dispute arose between the Claimant and Defendant, as a result of which the Claimant stopped any further payments to the Defendant. The Claimant was particularly concerned that the Defendant would not return his half of any advance payments if a refund became due to the NHS. The Claimant failed to make three monthly payments to the Defendant between August and October. In November, the Defendant terminated the agreement on the basis of the Claimant's repudiatory breach of contract.

The Court decisions

At first instance, the Court found that the agreement had been terminated wrongfully and awarded the Claimant damages. The majority of the Court of Appeal upheld this decision on the basis that, on the facts, the Defendant should have been aware that the Claimant was only intending to pay late as opposed to evincing an intention not to pay at all. By contrast, the dissenting judgment concluded that the failure to make three payments in a row was a repudiatory breach.

In the context of time charter hire disputes

The onus will be on an owner to demonstrate that he has been deprived of substantially the whole benefit of his time charter and/or that the charterer does not intend to make any further hire payments in the future. Furthermore, The Brimnes [1972] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 465 made it clear that even persistent late payment of hire instalments will not necessarily amount to a repudiation of the charter.

One of the majority appeal judges in Januzaj v. Valilas suggested that, in determining whether the number of missed or late payments was repudiatory, regard had to be given to the length of the contract as a whole. There is, however, previous case law to the effect that, in deciding whether repeated late payments are repudiatory, it will not simply be a question of looking at the number of payment instalments required over the whole of the contractual period and comparing that number with the number of occasions on which payment has not been made or has been made late. It is also necessary to look at the type of contract in question.

Januzaj v. Valilas was very much decided on its own facts. In that case, the dentist who missed three monthly payments had, in previous years, always managed to complete the requisite amount of work he had to perform for the NHS over the course of the year and so no refund to the NHS had ever been necessary. The majority of the Court of Appeal concluded that the Defendant should, therefore, have known that the Claimant would complete all his NHS work in the relevant year also, so that no refund would have been required and the Claimant would eventually have paid the Defendant all that was owing to him, albeit somewhat late. That was not sufficient to amount to repudiatory conduct.

In a time charter context, however, and in a challenging economic climate, it will often not be at all clear to an owner that he will eventually get his money, albeit late. Charterers may be on the brink of insolvency and may be looking to negotiate a reduced hire rate rather than comply with their original contractual obligations. There may also be a history of repeated defaults on the part of the charterer that can render his behaviour repudiatory as a whole. Nonetheless, Januzaj v. Valilas gives an owner faced with a defaulting charterer some cause for concern that he will be jumping the gun if he chooses to terminate where a charterer has missed a few hire payments. Is it relevant to consider the length of the charter when deciding whether several unpaid instalments is repudiatory? Are those payments just late or is the charterer not going to pay at all?


Given the Court of Appeal decision in Januzaj v. Valilas, an owner will need to be cautious about terminating for late payments of hire and there remains uncertainty over exactly how many non-payments will be sufficient to justify a decision by the owner to terminate the charter. Defaulting charterers often suggest to owners that they intend to pay outstanding hire in the future. Such a defaulting charterer, faced with an owner who chooses to terminate the charter as a result, may now argue that the outstanding payments were merely late or that only a few non-payments of hire in the context of a long-term charter is not repudiatory.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.