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Demurrage claims, supporting docs & time bars

When submitting a demurrage claim, C/Ps usually requires the owner to submit all supporting documents within a certain time period after completion of discharge, else the claim is time barred. Where a C/P requires demurrage to be calculated by reference to bill of lading quantities, then are copies of B/Ls ‘supporting documents’? This was the question in The MTM Hong Kong [2020].

The vessel discharged two parcels. Demurrage claim was supported by the demurrage invoice, laytime calculations, NOR, SOF, rate/pressure logs and various LOPs. Copies of two B/Ls were not provided and the SOF provided did not accurately record the bill of lading quantities as far as charterers’ parcel (1st parcel) was concerned.

The arbitration tribunal recorded that to the best of its recollection in disputes involving the discharge of different parcels of cargo, parties to those disputes have "only ever adduced in evidence statements of facts and never any bills of lading". As per them SOF was enough.

Charterers appealed. As per the court, C/P made it clear that pro-rating for demurrage purposes had to be calculated by reference to the bill of lading quantities. Owners' failure to produce B/Ls barred the entire claim and not just part of the claim attributable to delays in berthing.

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