95. Taylor v Lewis Ltd [1927] 27 Ll.L Rep 25 (Court Of Session)

Voyage Charterparty – effect of manuscript alterations and additions to standard clauses

The facts

The parties entered into a standard Chamber of Shipping Coasting Coal Charter-party in terms of which a cargo of coal was shipped from Burntisland to Aberdeen.

At the time of entering into the contract, it was well known to the parties that as a result of a coal strike and the emergency regulations which were promulgated as a result, vessels would require a permit to unload at Aberdeen.

At Aberdeen, the discharge was delayed by about 11 days by having to wait for a permit.

The contract included an exemption clause relating to restraints of princes and rulers or peoples, “including interferences of Government authorities or their officials”.

The parties amended the contract by deleting “including interferences of Government authorities or their officials” and adding in manuscript that the shippers “guaranteed to load and discharge the steamship”.

The shipper sought to rely on the restraint of princes and rulers exemption to defeat the owner’s claim for demurrage.

Findings

Lord Morison categorized the problem as one of construction of the charterparty. He found that the effect of the deletion, and the addition of the guarantee, seen against the background of the emergency regulations requiring a permit, meant that the parties intended to exclude reliance on government interference relating to the grant of permits from the ordinary ambit of the demurrage clause.

The owners were, accordingly, entitled to demurrage.

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