The outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo is getting worse. The World Health Organisation reports that 1,396 have already lost their lives in this latest outbreak with a total 2,071 reported cases as of 10 June 2019. Perhaps more worryingly, Ugandan authorities confirmed the deaths of two people yesterday, only two days
The High Court has handed down Judgment in Vitol SA v Beta Renowable SA  EWHC 1734 (Comm) highlighting the importance of ensuring that communication and conduct for the purpose of accepting repudiatory breach is clear and unambiguous.
This concerned a contractual dispute between Vitol, a major oil trader, and Beta Renowable Group, a manufacturer of biofuel products. Vitol had agreed, in four contracts dated 20 July 2016, to buy, and Beta to sell, 4,500 metric tonnes of biofuel with the lifting period extending from 16 June 2016 to 30 June 2016. Each contract required that the buyer nominate a vessel at least three working days prior to the vessel’s arrival at the load port, and that the nominated vessel arrive by midnight on the last day of the lifting period. Vitol then hedged these contracts against the risk of price fluctuations by selling gasoil futures contracts.
Beta signalled in early to mid-June 2016 that it would be unable to provide the biofuel in accordance with the contracts’ terms. Vitol, in response, did not nominate a vessel to perform the contract by 27 June 2016 and sent notice of contractual termination via email on 7 July 2016.
Carr J considered three main issues:
- Vitol’s claim to have accepted the repudiatory/renunciatory breach by failing to nominate a vessel to perform the contract by 27 June 2016;
- Whether failure to nominate relieved Beta of its obligation to deliver under the contracts; and
- The quantum of damages.
In the recent case of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. v. Cottonex Anstalt  EWCA Civ 789 the Court of Appeal ruled that the commercial purpose of the contract had been frustrated and that demurrage on detained containers which could not be redelivered to the carrier did not accrue indefinitely.
Continue Reading Definitely indefinite? Container Demurrage in the Court of Appeal