London Arbitration 1/21
TIME BAR – WHETHER OWNERS PROVIDED CONTRACTUAL DOCUMENTS – SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS – SIGNED DOCUMENTS – EQUIVALENT DOCUMENTS
Charterer argued Owner’s demurrage claim was time-barred for lack of containing the contractually required documents.
[dropcap]U[/dropcap]pon completion of a voyage charter from Genoa, Italy to Santa Pangia, Italy, owner claimed $197,598.13 in demurrage and shortly thereafter the charterer called for the claim to be dismissed as time barred since the correct and contractual required documentation was not provided as required by additional clause 24 on an amended ASBATANKVOY charter.
Additional clause 24 provided:
“A. Charterer shall be discharged and released from all liability in respect of any claim Owners may have against Charterers under this Charter Party unless a claim has been received by Charterers in writing with supporting documents within ninety (90) days of the completion of discharge of the cargo concerned under this Charter Party. Any claim which Owners may have under this Charter Party shall be deemed to be waived and absolutely barred, if such claim, together with all supporting documents is not received by Charterers within the agreed time bar.
B. Insofar as demurrage claims are concerned the supporting documents to be received by Charterers must include a Laytime and Demurrage calculation issued in accordance with the allowances and exceptions provided in this Charter Party. Owners’ invoice, Notices of Readiness and Statements of Facts issued at loading and discharging ports, duly signed in accordance with Clause 17 above. If other Time Sheets or Statements of Facts are separately issued for other cargoes handled at the same port or berth, these documents should also be attached to Owners Laytime and Demurrage calculation.”
The vessel’s discharge operation was completed on 9 January, with charterers receiving the demurrage claim a relatively short 22 days later. The owners’ demurrage claim was submitted with the following documents:
- Owners’ time sheet, dated 31 January
- Notice of readiness, Genoa
- Statement of facts, Genoa.
- Time log for Genoa dated 20 December.
- Loading rate request dated 19 December.
- Letter of protest for low loading rate.
- Notice of readiness, Santa Panagia.
- Statement of facts, Santa Panagia, issued by agents.
- Statement of facts, Santa Panagia, issued by the owners.
- Statement of facts, Santa Panagia, issued by the receivers.
- Discharging protocol.
- Manifolds pressure log.
- Letter of protest/vessel maintained on road.
Charterer argued that the owner’s demurrage invoice, statement of facts for Santa Panagia, and port logs, discharging and pump logs for the discharging port submitted by the owners’ were not bound to clause 24 and deemed the demurrage claim as a whole was invalid.
In regards to the owner’s demurrage invoice, the document submitted by the owner to the charterers read as ‘Time Sheet’ with the time and amount of demurrage exposure claimed at the bottom. Charterer objected as the time sheet did not state that it was an invoice at face value as required by clause 24B, and instead claimed that the clause asked for both a laytime and demurrage calculation and that a single document, as the one submitted, could not be both. Owner responded with the case of Lia Oil SA v ERG Petroli SpA  Lloyd’s Rep 509, whereby wide interpretations of ‘invoice’ can be reached and that the laytime statement is also an owner’s invoice in regards to producing supporting documentation. In the same approach, the tribunal came to the determination that clause 24B did not have the words ‘in addition to’, and whether or not the Lia Oil case was fact or law the precedent it set should be followed and allowed.
The charterer’s dismissal of the statement of facts was basis the document submitted under the name of ‘Statement of Facts’ not containing a signature by the receivers. However, the tribunal found that the ‘Time Sheet’ submitted by the owners contained all the information expected of a statement of facts and it was signed by the receivers. It was ruled that this signed document was to be accepted as the statement of facts, nullifying the charterer’s claim that this added to the time bar.
Charterer’s third and final position, that that the pump logs for the discharging port were not submitted by the owners, also failed after further review. Owner once again stated that it had provided everything that was needed in the ‘Time Sheet’ and its contents were functionally equivalent to everything asked for in clause 24. The owner was asked to produce all further supporting documents, and with the charterer not identifying any specific or equivalent documentation that the owner had failed to produce the charterer’s time bar motion failed.
To conclude, charterer’s attempt to time bar owner’s claim was dismissed, with owner entitled to $197,598.13 in demurrage.