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LUKOIL ASIA PACIFIC PTE LTD V OCEAN TANKERS (PTE) LTD (THE "OCEAN NEPTUNE")

Lloyd's Law Reporter

LUKOIL ASIA PACIFIC PTE LTD V OCEAN TANKERS (PTE) LTD (THE "OCEAN NEPTUNE")

[2018] EWHC 163 (Comm), Queen's Bench Division, Commercial Court, Mr Justice Popplewell, 2 February 2018

Charterparty (voyage) - Demurrage - Time bar - Documentary evidence for demurrage claim - Contract interpretation

On 8 November 2013 the claimants voyage-chartered the tanker Ocean Neptune from the defendant owners for carriage of a minimum 35,000 mt, with charterers' option up to a full cargo, of clean petroleum products, from one safe port Taiwan to one to three safe ports Australia. The fixture recap email incorporated the ExxonMobilVoy2005 form and the LITASCO clauses, both amended. Demurrage was payable at US$17,500 per day pro rata. Laytime for loading and discharging was 84 hours in total at both ends, Saturdays and holidays included. This was the charterers' appeal against a partial arbitral award on the preliminary issue of a time bar, wherein it was held that in respect of delays at Gladstone, the owners' demurrage claim was not time-barred. The charterers' argument was based on the LITASCO clauses, clause 2B of which provided that documents in support of the claim must be provided within 90 days of the completion of discharge. The claim had been submitted shortly after the voyage, but the tribunal held that charterers had failed to provide all supporting documents required because they did not include a statement of facts for each of the ports of Mailiao (load port), Gladstone, Botany Bay and Port Alma (discharge ports) countersigned by the terminal, or if it was impossible to obtain such a countersignature, a letter of protest from the master. At one of the intended discharge ports, Gladstone, no discharge had taken place because the receivers declined to take delivery on the basis that the cargo was contaminated. The tribunal held that the claim in respect of Gladstone, where no discharge had taken place and which claim had subsequently been re-labelled as time lost waiting for orders under LITASCO clause 4, was not time-barred. The charterers appealed against that decision asserting that the same documentation was required for a claim under clause 4. The question for the judge was whether a claim for time lost waiting for orders under clause 4 was a demurrage claim.

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