367. ED & F Man Sugar Ltd v Unicargo Transportgesellschaft GmbH (“the Ladytramp”) [2012] EWHC 2879 (Comm); [2013] EWCA Civ 1449

Sugar charterparty 1999 – strike/delay clause – interpreted adversely to charterers.  

The Facts

The vessel was fixed to carry sugar from one or two safe berths, Paranagua to the Black Sea.

A week before the arrival of the vessel at the loadport, and before a berth had been nominated by the charterers, a fire broke out at one of the three terminals at the loadport (coincidentally the terminal usually used by charterers).  The fire damaged the conveyor belt between the warehouse and the terminal, making the terminal inoperable for about 3 months.

Due to congestion, berthing of the vessel was delayed for almost a month. 

As the vessel was entitled to give notice of readiness at the customary waiting place, owners became, in the absence of contrary provisions in the charterparty, entitled to considerable demurrage.

Clause 28 read as follows:

“In the event that whilst at or off the loading place… the loading… of the vessel is prevented or delayed by any of the following occurrences:  strikes, riots, civil commotions, lock outs of men, accidents and/or breakdowns on railways, stoppages on railway and/or river and/or canal by ice or frost, mechanical breakdowns at mechanical loading plants, government interferences, vessel being inoperative or rendered inoperative due to the terms and conditions of appointment of the officers crew, time so lost shall not count as laytime”.

Findings

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