London Arbitration 11/14

The vessel was the subject of a voyage charter, under which the vessel was not accepted for loading. Owners argued that the rejection amounted to a repudiatory breach by Charterers and claimed damages for that breach plus damages for detention.

Charterers argued that it was Owners who were in repudiatory breach, because the vessel was not “in every way fitted for the voyage”, in that she could not moor and shift safely at the loading port, as she would be required to do, because she did not have adequate mooring facilities.

The Tribunal’s decision was based on a detailed consideration of the vessel’s equipment, the conditions at the installation where the vessel was due to load cargo and expert views as to whether and how the vessel would have been able to safely moor at the installation.

On an objective view, the Tribunal was satisfied that there would have been “serious and indeed unacceptable risks” in mooring the vessel and/or in shifting her at the installation had she been accepted by Charterers, such as to make those operations unsafe. The vessel was not, therefore, fitted for the voyage within the meaning of the charter and Owners were in repudiatory breach.

It should be noted that the charter in question did not contain a safe port/berth warranty. This meant that it was for Owners to satisfy themselves that their vessel was indeed fully fitted for the voyage. Had the charter contained a safe port/berth warranty, the position may have been different as Charterers would have warranted that the loading port/berth was prospectively safe for this particular vessel.