Who pays what?

A port agent in a small port on the south west coast of England was appointed by a German ship owner to attend the call of a ship. The quay where the ship berthed was privately owned. The port company made two charges; moorage dues, calculated on the cargo tonnage and payable by the ship owners, and harbour dues, also calculated on the cargo tonnage but payable by the receivers. The port agent included the moorage dues in the pro forma disbursement account sent to the owner. However, when the final disbursement account was sent to the owner he refused to pay the dues on the basis that the fixture of the ship was on the basis of “free taxes/dues on cargo and/or freight”. The owner said that the moorage dues, which were calculated on the basis of cargo discharged to the quay, were not for his account. No amount of explanation on the part of the port agent, ITIC and the port company could convince the owner that, although based on cargo tonnage, the moorage dues were a charge on the owners for the use of the quay.The port turned its attention to the port agent, demanding payment from him. Fortunately, the ship called at the port again, and the quay company obtained their payment.

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