Issue 1, 2008 - Demurrage | Damages and unsafe ports

In Waterfront Shipping vs. Trafigura, ([2008]1LLR 286), the court concluded that a claim for demurrage was time barred, because although the claim was submitted within the time limit, the pumping logs produced to support the claim were not signed either by the terminal or any of the ship’s officers, as was required by the charter.

The owner’s argument that the absence of signatures on the logs was trivial and had not caused the charterer any prejudice was rejected.

Moreover, although the content of the pumping logs were only relevant to part of the owner’s claim, the court concluded that the owner’s failure to produce signed logs had the result of

invalidating the entire claim, even those elements to which the pumping logs were irrelevant.

Demurrage claims rarely reach the English High Court - the vast majority are decided by London arbitrators, who will now be bound by this rather harsh finding. Distinctions could be drawn depending on the facts of each case, however the clear conclusion is that Members will need to ensure that documentary provisions of demurrage clauses are strictly complied with – both by crews and shore staff.

Failure to do so could result in valid claims - whether of the owner or a time charterer - falling foul of technicalities.


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