Three cases of North and South

THE CLUB recently handled two claims where the error involved a mistake by an agent over whether the ship or cargo should proceed in a north or southbound direction. The third claim in this section involved the question of whether a charterer was liable to pay for delays transiting the Bosphorus in both directions.

A liner agent made a clerical error when filling in a transit booking form. Ticking the wrong box indicated that a northbound container was to be carried southbound. Fortunately this error was discovered before the container was loaded but by then no space was available on the principal’s next northbound service. The unit was subsequently delayed and sadly the line lost the business of a major shipper.

On another occasion a Panama Canal agent booked the ship for a southbound instead of northbound transit. Again when the mistake was discovered there were no slots available in the correct direction. The result was a three day delay. The owners claimed USD 70,000 for the delay together with a transit cancellation fee (for the wrongly booked southbound transit) of USD 5,000.

Another ship was fixed for a cargo loading in the Black Sea. A ship broker assured the charterers that they were only responsible for the costs if the vessel was delayed transiting the Bosporus when exiting the Black Sea. The broker believed that, since the voyage commenced at a Black Sea port, a term providing that the charterers were liable for such delays would not apply to the ballast leg to the load port. Unfortunately the wording of the charterparty meant that any delays in the Bosporus would be for the charterers’ account. This applied whether the ship was entering in ballast or exiting having loaded. The ship was delayed on the ballast leg and the charterers claimed the costs from the broker.

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