The Petroleum Oil And Gas Corporation Of South Africa (Pty) Ltd v FR8 Singapore Ltd [2008] EWHC 2480 (Comm)

Author:Ms Reema Shour
Profession:B J Macfarlane & Co
 
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This dispute involved a voyage pursuant to a charterparty on an

amended BPVoy4 form relating to the carriage of two cargoes, High

Speed Diesel ("Gasoil Cargo") and Multiple Oil and Gas

("Mogas"). These cargoes were shipped on the

"ETERNITY" from India and the UAE to South Africa in

October 2006.

Upon the vessel's arrival at the intended discharge port of

Mossel Bay, the Charterers found both cargoes damaged. Charterers

contended this was due to the Owners' failure to adequately

separate the two cargoes' vapour phases from the common Inert

Gas (IG) line. They submitted that this was due to the

unsatisfactory state of the vessel's IG isolation valves and /

or control mechanisms and / or from the crew's inexperience and

/ or incompetence in handling two disparate cargoes. This, they

alleged, was in breach of the strict obligations of Owners under

clauses 12.1 and 12.2 of the charterparty (and the provisions of

the IMO guidelines referred to therein) and / or their obligations

under Article III of the Hague-Visby Rules.

The Charterers further contended that Owners were in breach of

their duties as bailees and / or carriers for reward and or to

deliver the cargoes in the same good order and condition as they

were in when shipped. The size of the claim was significant;

approximately US$8.3 million.

Clause 12.1 provided inter alia that "Owners undertake that

the Vessel is equipped with a fully functional IGS which is in full

working order, and is or is capable of being fully operational on

the date hereof and that they shall so maintain the IGS for the

duration of the charter, and that the Master, officers and crew are

properly qualified (as evidenced by appropriate certification) and

experienced in, the operation of the IGS...."

Clause 12.2 provided that the vessel was to fully comply with

the relevant SOLAS regulations and subsequent amendments and that

"Owners undertake that the IGS shall be operated by the

Master, officers and crew in accordance with the operational

procedures as set out in the IMO publication entitled "Inert

Gas Systems" (IMO 860E) as amended from time to

time...."

Clause 38 of the charterparty, an exceptions clause, stated that

the provisions of Articles III (other than Rule 8), IV bis and VIII

of the Schedule to COGSA 1971 should apply to the charterparty and

be deemed "inserted in extenso herein. This charter shall be

deemed to be a contract for the carriage of goods by sea to which

the said Articles apply, and Owners...

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