Laytime and Demurrage

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8.1 A claim for detention will arise where a vessel is delayed by default of the Charterer, or those for whom he is responsible, either on the approach voyage or carrying voyage, or at the port of loading or discharge, including delays after the completion of cargo operations. However, the delay for which the Charterer will be responsible will not extend to delays which would have arisen in any event, irrespective of any fault of the Charterer.1 Unliquidated damages are recoverable for such delay, except where it occurs after the vessel has reached its specified destination and loading and/or discharging have not been completed, when any remaining laytime may be offset against the delay, or if the vessel is on demurrage, when demurrage will be payable.2 8.2 Delays during the voyage stages of the charter normally fall to the account of the Owners. Delays caused by the Charterers during those stages falling to the account of the Charterers give rise to a claim for detention for time lost by the Owners. This is sometimes referred to as a common law detention, arising as it does, outside the scope of the terms of the actual charter. Another example of a common law detention has been considered earlier relating to the Charterers’ duty to act to enable the vessel in question to become an arrived ship.3 8.3 The question of fault by Owners in relation to laytime and demurrage has also been considered earlier4 and it was said that the delay and the cause of the delay must be contemporaneous, that is, as with off-hire, once the fault comes to an end, so does the period for which compensation can be claimed. Although there do not appear to be any decided cases on the point, it would be logical if the same applied to fault by the Charterers relating to the voyage stages. 8.4 It is, however, quite common for the parties to agree that even where unliquidated damages are payable, these should be assessed at the demurrage rate, plus, if the delay occurs whilst the vessel is under way, the cost of additional bunkers consumed.5 In The Boral Gas Evans J commented:6

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The agreed demurrage figure nevertheless may be regarded as the appropriate amount to award as unliquidated damages – this is a question of fact for the arbitrators to consider and decide.

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