30. Pteroti Compania Naviera S.A. v National Coal Board [1958] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 245

Voyage Charterparty – vessel commencing discharge before NOR tendered – 24 hour notice period for purposes of calculating dispatch money remaining operative.

The facts

Coal was shipped from the United States to Europe under an Americanized Welsh Coal Charter. Clause 8 read as follows:-

Time to commence twenty four (24) hours, Sundays and holidays excepted after vessel is ready to unload and written notice given …

The vessel arrived at the discharge port in the early hours of the morning and commenced
discharge shortly thereafter and before opening of business.

Notice of readiness was tendered at 9.00am.

The owners argued that, despite the wording of clause 8, which, it was contended, was inserted
solely for the benefit of the charterers, laytime commenced as soon as discharge began.

Findings

The Commercial Court (Diplock J), without mentioning the authorities to which he had been
referred, found that the plain meaning of the clause was that the discharge which took place before
the expiry of the notice period was free time for the charterers.

Commentary

The fact that a window period was provided after tender of NOR indicated a clear intention of the
parties of the time of the commencement of laytime. Validity of the NOR was not in issue.

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