82. Pyxis Special Shipping Co Ltd v Dritsas & Kaglis Bros Ltd (The “Scaplake”) [1978] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 380.

Voyage charterparty – identity of charterer – agency

The facts

A voyage charterparty was signed on a Gencon form on 3 February 1976. The Scaplake was chartered to transport logs from Cameroun to Corinth. It was stipulated that the vessel to be loaded to a maximum draught of 21 ft 6 in.

An addendum was entered into indemnifying the owners from the consequences of loading the vessel in excess of 21 ft 6 in.

A further addendum was entered into allowing the vessel to discharge partially at Kiatou where the vessel grounded and suffered damage to her hull.

The identity of the charterer was not clear from the contract. Although C company of Cyprus was described as the “charterer” on the face of the document, D company’s stamp with a director’s signature appeared on the reverse side of the printed Gencon form. In addition, one of the clauses referred to the D company of Corinth as the “actual charterers”.

The owners instituted arbitration proceedings against C company but when they found out that C company was impoverished and would be unlikely to satisfy the judgment, they instituted action against D company.

Findings

The court entered into an extensive examination of the surrounding facts, perhaps the most significant being that D company was also the FOB purchaser of the cargo.

The court found that C company was D company’s agent and that D company was liable as a party to the charterparty.

This judgment is an example of the strict application of the parol evidence rule. Evidence extrinsic to the written instrument was allowed only insofar as the wording was ambiguous.

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