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A shipless shipping contract: a fish out of water

View profile for Jonathan Haydn-Williams
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A shipless shipping contract: a fish out of water. The Transport Secretary signing a contract for shipping services with a company with no ships could be a script from the 'Yes Minister' TV series and books. But, as we know, it is not fiction.

Chris Grayling's reliance upon a contractual duty to provide ships shows a naive belief in the sufficiency of a contractual right. As those of us engaged in the resolution of disputes know, trying to enforce a legal right may not get you where you want - or need - to be. The recent cancellation of the contract may show a belated realisation of that.

If the calls for Mr Grayling's resignation are justified, it would suggest he is a 'fish out of water': another example of someone elected to our legislature not having the executive skills needed to hold a post in Government. But why should we expect MPs to have that different skill set: the two jobs are different?

Should Mr Grayling's Department not bear some blame? A Minister should rely on civil servants, but we will never know whether he was ill-served or ignored advice. An insight by the late Sir Anthony Jay, writer of 'Yes Minister', was that the Civil Service is driven by process, not outcome.

Perhaps that was the case here.

This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice. If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.