596. Richco International Ltd v Alfred C Toepfer International GmbH (the “Bonde”) [1991] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 136

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FOB sale – demurrage clause – parallel obligation to pay carrying charges

The facts

A parcel of wheat was sold FOB Damman, Saudi Arabia.

The contract provided for demurrage, a guaranteed loading rate, sellers’ carrying charges if vessel arrived late and a right on behalf of the buyers to extend the delivery date. 

The buyers exercised their right to extend the delivery date. At the same time, the sellers defaulted on the guaranteed loading rate.

The sellers were happy to pay demurrage but claimed carrying charges which they incurred as result of the extended delivery date.

The buyers’ case was that they were not liable for carrying charges incurred as result of the sellers’ failure to load at the agreed rate ie those charges incurred during the extra time taken to load (in the  extended delivery period). The sellers contended that their failure to load at the agreed rate was compensated by demurrage and that their claim for carrying charges remained intact.

Findings

The GAFTA Appeal Board found for the sellers. Potter J dismissed the buyers’ appeal on a point of law.

Discussion

Potter J examined Aktieselskabet Reidar v Arcos (1926 Court of Appeal) and Suisse Atlantique (1967 House of Lords) and concluded that payment of demurrage as liquidated damages precluded a claim for additional damages.

The ratio discerned from Reidar v Arcos was that to recover additional damages there had to be a breach of a separate obligation which was absent in this case.

Andrew Baker J in the Eternal Bliss held this case incorrectly decided on first principles: demurrage was intended to cover loss for delay in the employment of the vessel – where a different type of damage is caused by the delay, this loss may also be recovered ie a separate breach is not required to found liability.



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