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An invalid NOR, a hurricane, force majeure, no cargo to load, and a vessel aground

Updated: Apr 10, 2022

An invalid NOR, a hurricane hitting the port, force majeure, no cargo to load, and a grounded vessel - the ingredients of London Arbitration 13/19.

Vessel was chartered for carriage of grain from Myrtle Grove in Mississippi river. NOR was tendered at the first pilot stn. Initially her holds were rejected but later approved and on the following day a hurricane struck, driving her aground. A month later vsl was ready to receive cargo. However, the cargo was also water damaged and charterers declared force majeure, and also said that NOR was invalid. Owners nonetheless tendered another NOR but the charterers chose to cancel the charter – which the owners considered to be a repudiatory breach.

The tribunal held that although the original NOR was tendered prematurely, charterers’ actions seemed to have constituted their acceptance - when their agents included the invalid NOR with the documents submitted to the loading terminal. Charterer’s reliance on force majeure was rejected as the C/P did not relate to a specific cargo and charterers were thus obliged to propose substitute cargo. In any case, once the laytime started, the force majeure clause could not stop the clock running as the wording was not specific enough to apply to laytime / demurrage.

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