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Shore scale, shortage claims & draft surveys

Those involved in bulk trade are frequently confronted with [paper] shortage claims with owners usually being on the loosing end when charterers turn to them for recovery. In London Arb. 14/19 charterers were alleging shortage of 127 mt of soybean on discharge on the basis of a comparison of the B/L qty with shore wt figs. They were also claiming for surveyors’ charges.

As per C/P, B/Ls were to be prepared as per custom of the load port which in this case was the shore scale. Difference with draft survey was 414 mt. Charterers’ sent a surveyor to 1st disch port who reported that ship’s draft survey figs were unreliable due to clerical errors, problem with computer and non-declaration of accurate qty of FO.

Owners argued that a comparison of draft surveys at load and discharge port showed no shortage. However, C/P did not call for a comparison of draft surveys both ends but between B/L figure and discharge draft survey(s). Charterers claim succeeded only for Huelva as they were able to produce a settlement agreement with receivers to prove their loss but not for other two disch ports.

As for the charterers’ claim for surveyor charges, tribunal decided owners should bear this as they were insisting (contrary to C/P arrangement) to include draft survey figs in B/L.

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