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Port Charterparty – multiple destinations at charterers’ option – failure to nominate loading port timeously giving rise to claim for damages for detention

The facts

Soya meal and maize corn were shipped from Norfolk, Virginia to one or two safe ports in Holland, Belgium or Germany in terms of a Baltimore grain charterparty.

The terms of the charter required the charterers to nominate a port or ports en route.

At the instance of the charterers, the vessel proceeded to the Weser River. The general location presented a number of possible river ports for discharge. The vessel anchored at the pilot station at the Weser light vessel 25 miles away from the mouth of the river. After a brief delay, the vessel steamed up river and dropped anchor at the port closest to the estuary, Bremerhaven.

From there it was ordered by the charterers to Brake where it discharged its entire cargo.

The shipowners claimed damages for detention on the account of the failure to nominate a port timeously.


Donaldson, J in the Commercial Court upheld the shipowner’s claim. His decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal (Lord Denning, MR, Salmon and Megaw LJJ).


If the failure to reach a berth had been due to congestion, the shipowners would have been without a remedy because of the artificial limitations of the “arrived ship” doctrine. The vessel would only become an arrived ship once within port limits despite the fact that positioning at the Weser lightship made the vessel immediately accessible to the charterers for all practical purposes

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Charter Party Casebook