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Arbitration – Multiple bills of lading incorporating same arbitration clause – nomination of same arbitrator in a referral mentioning each bill of lading a good referral

 The Facts

The vessel, laden with crude degummed soya bean oil in bulk, lost its rudder and was towed to Cape Town for repairs. General Average was declared. Cargo interests were forced to trans-ship the cargo at their cost.

The cargo was loaded pursuant to a Tanker Voyage Charterparty. A total of 36,500 metric tons was loaded in two parcels, the larger at Rosario and the smaller at Paranagua. Discharge was to be at Tianjin and Rizhao, China. Four Tanker form bills of lading and six Congen bills of lading were involved.

All the bills incorporated the charterparty arbitration clause which provided that all disputes would be dealt with by arbitration in London according to English Law governed by LMAA terms.

A recovery agent commenced arbitration under all ten bills of lading on behalf of the cargo interests appointing Mr Clive Aston as arbitrator.

The notice of appointment was addressed to the shipowners and other interested parties and listed all ten bills of lading.

Owners were called upon to appoint their arbitrator within fourteen days.

Owners appointed Mr Colin Sheppard under protest and disputed the jurisdiction of the panel as a preliminary point.

The tribunal found that the notice was effective to commence arbitration and interrupt any time bar and that, in effect, the notice commenced ten separate references.


Hamblen J upheld the arbitrators’ findings.

He agreed that the reference was not a composite one, which was not envisaged by the arbitration clause, but ten separate references, sensibly appointing the same arbitrator for each.

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Charter Party Casebook