Laytime.‘Reachable on arrival’ - The Laura Prima. Last updated 01-Sep-2014

My Lords, sometimes it is possible to detect from an alteration of clauses in standard forms an obvious intention to depart from a particular judicial decision the practical effect of which the parties wish to avoid. But I do not find any assistance towards solving the instant problem in tracing the lineage of the Exxonvoy 1969 form.
Per Lord Roskill in The Laura Prima [1982] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 1.

The Laura Prima [1982] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 1

There are two features which considerably distinguish The Laura Prima case from previous decisions on "reachable on arrival" provision.

Firstly, it was Exxonvoy 1969 (or ASBATANKVOY) form of voyage charter which was used in unamended form. Exxonvoy 1969 later known as ASBATANKVOY (read more about history of ASBATANKVOY here), is one of the most universal and used charter parties in the world. It was issued by ASBA in 1977.

Secondly, decision of the House of Lords in The Johanna Oldendorff [1974] A.C. 479 considerably amended and clarified law related to the concept of "arrival ship" (read more: The Johanna Oldendorff & The Maratha Envoy). Application of Lord Reid’s test has significantly reduced the number of occasions when situation might offer the owners a chance to claim additional damages for detention on pretext that breach of "reachable on arrival" warranty prevented vessel to become an "arrived ship".

The Laura Prima arrived at her loading port at 0140 hrs on 27th November 1978 and gave NOR as cl 6 requires (see also NOR and Laycan). She could not, however, proceed to a loading berth at once since all possible loading berths were occupied by other vessels. This remained the position until 1630 hrs on 6th December 1978. The shipowners claimed that the Laura Prima came on demurrage at 0740 hrs on 30th November 1978, this being 72 hours after the expiry of the notice of readiness, and remained on demurrage until 1900 hrs on 8th December 1978 when loading was completed, the relevant period on demurrage at the loading port being 8 days 11 hours 20 minutes. The owners claimed either demurrage or damages for detention for breach of cl 9.  The charterers contended to be protected against these claims by the last sentence of cl 6, because all the loading port delay was caused by congestion over which they had no control.

Clause 6 of ASBATANKVOY deals with NOR:

6. NOTICE OF READINESS.

Upon arrival at customary anchorage at each port of loading or discharge, the Master or his agent shall give the Charterer or his agent notice by letter, telegraph, wireless or telephone that the Vessel is ready to load or discharge cargo, berth or no berth, and laytime, as hereinafter provided, shall commence upon the expiration of six (6) hours after receipt of such notice, or upon the Vessel’s arrival in berth (i.e., finished mooring when at a sealoading or discharging terminal and all fast when loading or discharging alongside a wharf), whichever first occurs. However, where delay is caused to vessel getting into berth after giving notice of readiness for any reason over which Charterer has no control, such delay shall not count as used laytime.

And clause 9 contains "reachable on arrival" warranty.

9. SAFE BERTHING-SHIFTING.

The vessel shall load and discharge at any safe place or wharf, or alongside vessels or lighters reachable on her arrival, which shall be designated and procured by the Charterer, provided the Vessel can proceed thereto, lie at, and depart therefrom always safely afloat, any lighterage being at the expense, risk and peril of the Charterer. The Charterer shall have the right of shifting the Vessel at ports of loading and/or discharge from one safe berth to another on payment of all towage and pilotage shifting to next berth, charges for running lines on arrival at and leaving that berth, additional agency charges and expenses, customs overtime and fees, and any other extra port charges or port expenses incurred by reason of using more than one berth. Time consumed on account of shifting shall count as used laytime except as otherwise provided in Clause 15.

The effect of words in cl. 6 ‘… where delay is caused to Vessel getting into berth after giving notice of readiness for any reason over which Charterer has no control’ was held to give protection to the charterers only when they satisfied requirements of cl.9 which impose on them a duty to procure place reachable on arrival.

Reachable on arrival' is a well-known phrase and means precisely what it says. If a berth cannot be reached on arrival, the warranty is broken unless there is some relevant protecting exception. The analogy from the requirement of safety does not assist. The berth is required to have two characteristics: it has to be safe and it has also to be reachable on arrival.
Per Lord Roskill in Nereide SpA di Navigazione v Bulk Oil International Ltd (The Laura Prima) [1981] 3 All ER 737, [1982] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 1

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