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111. AET Inc Ltd v. Arcadia Petroleum Ltd (The Eagle Valencia)1
Voyage charterparty—notice of readiness—free pratique—demurrage—Shellvoy 5
T chartered the Eagle Valencia, an oil tanker, to P on the Shellvoy 5 form.2 The laytime agreed was 96 running hours with laytime commencing “6 hours after the vessel is in all respects ready to load or discharge and written notice thereof has been tendered by the master … or the vessel is securely moored at the specified loading or discharging berth whichever first occurs” (Part II, cl 13.1). Part II, cl 13.1.a2 was to the effect that, if the vessel did not proceed immediately to such berth, time would commence six hours after “(i) the vessel is lying in the area where she was ordered to wait or, in the absence of any such specific order, in a usual waiting area and (ii) written notice of readiness has been tendered and (iii) the specified berth is accessible”. The demurrage payable was “60,000 USD PDPR”.3
Notice of readiness (NOR) was tendered at Escravos, Nigeria, at 1148 on 15 January 2007 but, since the berth was occupied, the Eagle Valencia was required to wait at anchorage. The port health representatives boarded the vessel at the anchorage at 0730 on 16 January and free pratique4 was granted at 0830 that day. At 1539 the master sent an email saying that the vessel was ready to load, without prejudice to the NOR. At 1553 he sent a further email saying that free pratique had been granted at 0830. The relevant clause, cl 22.1 (SAC), provided that, if owners failed to obtain free pratique within six hours after NOR was tendered, then the notice would not be valid. However, cl 22.5 (SAC) and cl 22.6 (SAC) provided that the presentation of the NOR and the commencement of laytime would not be invalid where the authorities did not grant free pratique at the anchorage or other place but cleared the vessel when she berthed, and that under those conditions the notice of readiness would be valid unless the timely clearance of the vessel was caused by the fault of the vessel.