Port of refuge. A port of refuge is a port at which general average repairs and expenses are incurred and are not restricted to a port to which a ship may call for stress of weather.
The phrase can also apply to a port in which the vessel calls for loading, discharging or bunkering if general average is declared. Of all the various kinds of general average expenditure, the most common is port of refuge expenses. A vessel usually has to enter a port of refuge in consequence of a casualty or because of general average damage to the ship.
Under English common law if a vessel enters a port of refuge because of general average damage, the following expenses may be allowed in general average, on the principle that the expenditure is in consequence of a general average act:
Cost of entering the port, i.e., inward port charges, pilotage, port dues, etc.
Cost of discharging cargo, if necessary, to effect the repairs.
Warehouse rent whilst repairs are being effected.
Cost of reloading the cargo.
Outward port charges, pilotage, etc.
However, if the vessel enters the port of refuge because of accidental damage, then only the cost of entering the port and the cost of discharging cargo to effect repairs are allowed in general average, on the principle that general average ceases as soon as safety is achieved. The warehouse rent is treated as a special charge on cargo, and the cost of reloading and the outward port charges are special charges on freight.
The law of other maritime countries and also the York Antwerp Rules do not make this distinction when dealing with port of refuge expenses, all the expenses being allowed in general average, irrespective of the reason for entering. The view of English law is that the measures are for the purpose of attaining safety, after which their general average nature ceases. Most foreign laws, including the York Antwerp Rules, take the broader view that general average measures are taken to ensure the completion of the adventure. They allow a far wider treatment of what charges may be regarded as extraordinary and allowable in general average. English law is very strict in its exclusion of what may be termed “consequential” expenses.