In London Arbitration 6/12 ((2012) 858 LMLN 4), the Tribunal considered whether an additional clause giving Charterers the option to discharge at a second part (in which event time was to count from arrival at the pilot station to dropping outward pilot) operated independently of the charterparty laytime code.
The vessel was chartered on an amended Gencon form. Clause 21 set out the laytime and demurrage code, whereby cargo was to be discharged at 600mt per weather working day of 24 consecutive hours, with time from 1700 or the day preceding a holiday until 0800 Monday or the working day following a holiday not to count as laytime, if used.
Clause 46, an additional clause, provided:
“Charterers have the option to discharge 2nd port in the Medit/Black Sea: if Charterers exercise this option, then time at 2nd discharge port to count from APS [arrival at pilot station] to DOP [dropping outward pilot], and the extra costs calculated basis time at the demurrage rate plus extra fuel on the main engine, also the port costs at 2nd discharge port to be for Charterers’ account.”
Owners submitted that under this clause, laytime ran without interruptionfrom the vessel’s arrival at the pilot station at the second nominated port until the vessel dropped outward pilot after completing discharge there. On that basis, they said, they were entitled to demurrage. They said that the clause should be given its ordinary and natural meaning, and that where a period of time was defined as being from a specified point to another specified point, all time in between those points should count.
Charterers argued that the references to APS and DOP signified that laytime would commence once the vessel had arrived at the pilot station and then run, subject to the usual exceptions, until the vessel dropped outward pilot. For the clause to have the effect alleged by Owners, they argued, it would need to state that “all time” was to count or refer to the time being counted on a SHINC basis. It did neither, and so time should be counted at the additional port in accordance with the charterparty laytime provisions.
The Tribunal agreed with Owners that the clause should be given its ordinary and natural meaning, that is that time counted without interruption from APS to DOP. There was nothing extraordinary about this, indeed parties often agreed such terms where an additional port call was requested. While the clause would have been clearer with words such as “all time” or “without interruption” added, the absence of such words did not change the interpretation of the clause. As a result, Owners’ demurrage claim succeeded.
This case emphasises the need for clarity in additional charterparty clauses, particularly where the running or counting of time is concerned. In order to avoid disputes such as this, it is suggested that words such as “without interruption” are included where that is indeed the intention of the clause. This case also highlights the fact that Tribunals will give clauses their ordinary meaning where possible, rather than seeking to manipulate the language or imply additional terms.