Monday, July 15, 2024

Notice of Readiness

Notice of Readiness

1.      NOR at the end of the sea passage was invalid

Clause 31 of the Rider set out the provisions agreed in relation to tender of NOR, commencement and allowed laytime as follows : “… Vessel to be loaded at the rate of 20,000 Metric Tons per weather working day of 24 consecutive hours, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included, Charterers option to load at 25,000 Metric Tons….. Laytime shall commence 12 hours after the vessel tenders notice…..If the berth is not available on the Vessel’s arrival, the Master may tender said notice from a lay berth or anchorage within the port limits.” The loadport SOF records that the Vessel first tendered NOR at 2035 on 3 January 2021. However, the SOF also records that the Vessel only stopped to pick up a pilot and ended its sea passage at this point, weighing anchor shortly afterwards at 2240, at which point NOR was re-tendered.

Held, it was trite law that tender of NOR at the end of sea passage, before a vessel anchors or berths, was premature and invalid. The NOR tendered at 2035 on 3 January 2021 was invalid and the first validly tendered NOR at the loadport was that tendered at 2240 the same day.

(LMAA, Two arbitrators 2022)

2. No copy of NOR and additional evidence- signed declaration of NOR being tendered

Owner did not submit a copy of a Notice Readiness (NOR) that Owner states was tendered upon vessel’s arrival at the Southwest Pass anchorage. However, Owner’s chartering manager, in a signed Declaration submitted to the Court, stated the NOR was given at 1110 on February 14, that laytime began 12 hours later at 2310 that day and that the vessel went on demurrage at 0640 on February 16. In a statement dated March 6, 2014, signed both by Mr. X and Owner’s CEO, Mr. Y, Owner confirmed the same times for the NOR and commencement of laytime. Owner’s Amended Submission also stated that time on demurrage began at 0640 on February 16. Owner’s laytime calculations and demurrage invoices, however, record time on demurrage beginning 24 minutes later, at 0704 on February l6. This latter calculation reflected allowed laytime based on a cargo intake of 31,900 MT. Given that the charter provided for a cargo of 31,500 MT, 10% more or less in Owner’s option, the panel accepted as correct, the calculation of allowed laytime based on an assumed intake 31,900 and. Therefore, the panel accepted that demurrage began at 0704 on February 16, as reflected in Owner’s laytime statement. The panel also accepted that an NOR was tendered at 1110 on February 14, given the numerous references to it in documents sent to Charterers in the period before the charter cancellation, none of which Charterer disputed.

(SMA, Three arbitrators 2015)

3. NOR tendered after technical breakdown- delay in berthing thereafter

The Charterers further argued that the vessel suffered a technical breakdown at Fujairah anchorage, only tendering NOR the next day, and as a result lost her slot and had to wait at the anchorage, instead of going straight to berth on arrival. Because of this the vessel was delayed in berthing for 10 hrs due to congestion, the Charterers said. Accordingly they should not be liable for this waiting time and hence the demurrage claimed. The Owners said that there was no provision in the CP that permitted the Charterers to make any deduction as regards the commencement of laytime. The charter stated that laytime starts to count 6 hours after tendering NOR.

Held, as regards the Charterers’ argument based upon the loss of their discharge berthing slot due to delay in the vessel tendering NOR because she “did not maintain speed during steaming” (per the remark of the Charterers on their laytime calculation), even assuming that the alleged slow steaming was caused by a breach of charter for which the Owners are not protected by an exception in the charter such as the exercise of due diligence, we do not consider that the Charterers can recover damages in the shape of refusing to pay demurrage that had accrued. As the Owners submitted, the demurrage claimed followed inevitably from the beginning of laytime once the NOR had been given – as to which there was no dispute. Delay in giving the NOR, even if correct, did not affect the resulting demurrage claim.

( LMAA, Two arbitrators 2009)