In the Aconcagua Bay  EWHC 654, the Commercial Court Judge differentiated “always accessible” from “reachable on arrival”, holding that the term berth “always accessible” refers not only to entry, but also to the departure of the vessel from berth.
On the facts of the case, a bridge and lock were damaged whilst the vessel was loading, meaning she could not use a channel and was therefore unable to leave the berth. Owners claimed damages for detention from the Charterers for the period of delay.
In a short decision, the Judge decided, having considered, inter alia, the Baltic Code and BIMCO laytime definitions, the need for the meaning to reflect the inclusion of the word “always” and the context, that he could “see no basis for a conclusion that” by using the phrase “always accessible” to address the question of accessibility, the parties “should be taken to have addressed entry only”.
Both Owners and Charterers may wish to consider their standard chartering terms in light of this decision.