553. Evera SA Comercial v North Shipping Company Ltd (the “North Anglia”) [1956]

Voyage charter party entered into while already engaged on another voyage charter party – risk of delay provided for in earlier voyage charter party not to be borne by new charterers.

The Facts

On 30 July 1953, the vessel left the United Kingdom for Fort Churchill, a port on the Hudson Bay, in ballast to load grain for a return voyage to the United Kingdom pursuant to a voyage charter party.

On 6 August 1953, before the vessel had reached Fort Churchill to load, the owners fixed her on a second charter from Fort Churchill to the United Kingdom, stating an expected time of arrival as 27 September 1953.

As matters turned out, the vessel was delayed at the UK discharge port of Leith by congestion with the effect that the vessel would only have been able to reach Canada by 20 October 1953, ie 3 weeks late.

On being informed of the delay at Leith, new charterers cancelled and claimed damages.

Findings

Devlin J, after setting out the ordinary rule in Samuel Sanday and Co v Keighley, Maxsted and Co, that missing a cancelling date for arrival at a load port does not give rise to a claim for damages, held that this does not apply where the owners miss the date by binding themselves to another charter.

The rationale which he provided for liability was that the owners were bound to commence the approach voyage of the charter when they could reasonably be expected to arrive in time.

Commentary

Devlin J’s rationale is but a different way of saying that the cause of the delay cannot reside in the owners’ further contract with a third party.

Devlin J referred to the Wythburn but accepted counsel’s argument that the case was decided on its own facts which happened to be materially identical.

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