Port charter – vessel lying in dock awaiting berth – laytime commencing despite hatches not being off and discharging gear not being ready
In terms of voyage charterparty, the vessel was ordered to Avonmouth and Sharpness to discharge her cargo of grain.
The vessel lay in the docks for about a week before she was berthed when discharge began.
While the vessel was moored in the docks, the hatches remained on and no discharging gear was on board.
The charterers/receivers argued that because of the absence of the above preparations, the ship was not in a state of readiness in order to allow laytime to begin.
The court of first instance, (Bray J), held in favour of the charterers.
The Court of Appeal (Swinfen Eady, Bankes and Scrutton LJJ) reversed the decision and held in favour of the owners.
They held that it would be “idle” and “unbusinesslike” to have the vessel rigged for discharge when this was not immediately required and while the vessel was waiting to go alongside.
This decision was reached 8 years after Leonis v Rank. The implications of a port charter appear not to have been so well settled and reference to Leonis v Rank was still required to support the contention that the vessel became “arrived” when she reached the port.
It is interesting to note that there is no mention of a Notice of Readiness and that the commencement of laytime is linked only to the concept of arrival.
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