Damages for Ship Detention
Delays to a vessel may be incurred that do not fall within the regime of laytime or demurrage. It may be that the owner is entitled to claim damages for a breach of charterparty, but in this case they would not be liquidated damages (like demurrage).
The owner has to prove not only a breach of charterparty by the charterer but also that it incurred losses. Claims for damages can be complex and it is not the role of this module to cover this subject in great detail but some common examples of detention are given below which may give rise to a claim for damages by the owner: Waiting for cargo documents. After the laytime/demurrage clock has stopped, for example, completion of loading, or in the case of tankers after hoses have been disconnected, the completion and presentation of cargo documents usually takes just 2 or 3 hours and is an accepted activity. But, if there is a long delay owners may be able to claim damages for detention.
In the tanker trade shipowners, after accepting, perhaps, the first 2 hours will often add the balance of this waiting time to their demurrage calculation and charge it at the demurrage rate. This is an accepted practice and in most tanker charterparties there is a clause that states that laytime/demurrage will recommence after a period of 1-3 hours and will finally end when cargo papers are placed on board. An ‘always accessible’ provision.
Despite fixing on a berth charterparty, there may be an express provision that the berth will be ‘always accessible’. Where the berth is congested on arrival the vessel cannot be an ‘arrived ship’ and laytime cannot start. The owner may, however, have a claim for damages as a result of the charterer’s breach of the ‘always accessible’ provision.
It must be emphasised that when it comes to laytime, demurrage and despatch calculations both parties must pay careful attention to which method of calculation is to apply as you can see that the final answer can be significantly different to the detriment of one or other party to the venture.