Demurrage is Not an Indemnity

Oftentimes, demurrage claims issued by commercial trading partners under contracts of sale are disputed and a copy of the ship owner’s demurrage claim is requested, allegedly to support the merit of the claimant’s invoice. However, unless the stipulation to provide the Owner’s claim is expressly required within the contract terms, it is unnecessary to be disclosed as demurrage is not considered an indemnity (compensation for a loss suffered). Contrary to popular belief that a party cannot benefit by demurrage, English law holds that there is an absolute obligation to pay demurrage incurred under the terms of a sales contract. There is nothing to prevent a profit from being made on a legitimate demurrage claim [Houlder Brothers Co. Ltd. V. Commissioner of Public Works [1908] AC 276].
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