Regular followers of our blog will recall our report on this case back in September 2020. For those who missed it, please follow this link.
In short, the Court of Appeal allowed Charterers’ appeal, albeit on assumed facts. Lord Justice Males construed the term “demurrage” widely as encompassing the whole of the damages arising from a charterer’s failure to complete cargo operations within the agreed laytime. It was wide enough, he said, to include a claim for damages for deterioration of the cargo provided that this was the sole result of a failure to complete cargo operations within the stated time.
This case is highly pertinent to the carriage of perishable cargoes such as soy beans. Those cargoes are often carried on long voyages in high temperatures. Any delays in loading or discharging can make all the difference. Whilst Owners still have their Hague Visby Rule defences to cargo claims, it is a fact of life that such defences do not always protect them in certain jurisdictions. It follows that Owners who settle those claims are now back to square one when it comes to bringing a claim against Charterers if the cargo deterioration arose solely as a result of delays in loading or discharge.
It is too early to say whether the case will end up in the Supreme Court but, for the moment at least, this is a victory for voyage charterers.
The full case report is available online by clicking here.