542. Navelmar UK Ltd v Kale Maden Hammaddeler Sanayi Ticaret AS (“the MV Arundel Castle”) [2017] EWHC 116 (Comm)

Port charterparty – “within port limits” defined.

The Facts

A fixture recap contained the following clause:

15. Notice of readiness to be tendered at both ends even by cable/telefax on vessel’s arrival at load/discharging ports within port limits. The notice of readiness not to be tendered before commencement of laydays.

  1. … Otherwise Gencon 94 printed form charterparty with logical amendments on the terms as per fixture recap.

Clause 6(c) of Gencon 94 included the following under the sub heading “commencement of laytime (loading and discharging)”.

If the loading/discharging berth is not available on the vessel’s arrival at/off the port of loading/discharging, the vessel shall be entitled to give notice of readiness within ordinary office hours on arrival there … laytime or time on demurrage shall then count as if she were in berth and in all respects ready for loading/discharging provided that the master warrants that she is in fact ready in all respects. Time used in moving from the place of waiting to loading/discharging berth shall not count as laytime”.

Due to congestion, the vessel anchored outside the port limits of Krishnapatnam as depicted on the relevant Admiralty Chart.

Despite this, owners tendered notice of readiness and claimed demurrage.

Findings

Messrs Williamson and Schofield found for the charterers.

Owners were given permission to appeal on the definition of “port limits

Referring to Johanna Oldendorff, and the Martha Envoy, Mr Justice Knowles CBE, upheld the arbitrators’ award.

He held that where there is a national local law that defines the limits of the port in question, those are the limits that will apply in the case of that port. Where there is not such a law, then a good indication of what the port limits are is given by the area of exercise by the port authority of its powers to regulate the movements of conduct of ships.

Here the arbitrators did the best they could with material offered to them: the Admiralty Chart.

Commentary

The outcome seems fairly obvious.

The value of “port limits” as a criterion for an arrived ship remains questionable.

All that should matter is the quality of the vessel’s position and the readiness of access to a berth when one becomes available.

 

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