Check before answering

A broker was acting for the owner of a vessel trading in the Mediterranean. When considering an offer from charterers, which included the term “time from 1700 Thursday or a day preceding a holiday until 0800 hours next working day not to count even if used” the owner asked the broker for the weekend working times in Algeria.

The broker answered the owner’s question without checking and got it wrong. The broker had advised the owner that the weekend working times were 1700 Thursday to 0800 Saturday, when in fact (as set out in BIMCO’s holiday calendar) the correct answer should have been 1700 Thursday to 0800 Sunday - a difference of 24 hours.

The owner agreed to the fixture following this negligent advice and had calculated the freight rate on the basis of the shorter period the broker had given. The vessel was delayed in port. The laytime commenced later than the owner anticipated and the eventual shortfall in demurrage was claimed from the broker.

The result of the longer than anticipated weekends was a claim of USD 25,527 which was settled by ITIC. This is a classic example of how a claim could have been avoided if the broker had checked before answering.

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