“There is a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together”. AGA Partners are familiar with this ancient wisdom, but in its own legal way: "There is time to file a claim, and there is time to hold it back". Indeed, this interpretation allowed us to successfully defend the interests of our client in the recent arbitration at the London Maritime Arbitrators Association.
Our client’s opponent, a Swiss trader in agricultural products, claimed in arbitral proceedings compensation of demurrage allegedly incurred in the port of Bandirma, Turkey.
In the submissions, the AGA Partners team consisting of Iryna Moroz, Ievgen Boiarskyi and Pavlo Lebediev noted that the claim had been filed almost two years after the ship was discharged and therefore shall be time-barred.
This situation was quite sophisticated as the charter party itself did not establish a time bar. At the same time, it contained a reference to SYNACOMEX 2000, a model grain voyage charter party, which allows parties arbitration to commence arbitration only within a year after the discharge of the vessel.
The shipowner insisted that the parties excluded the effect of this provision since the main charter party did not contain any limitation period.
In the end, the arbitral tribunal accepted our client’s position that the claim is time-barred under the charter party as it does not stipulate any clause that would contradict a provision on the limitation period in SYNACOMEX 2000.
As a result, AGA Partners achieved another victory: the arbitrators left the claim of our opponents without consideration due to the expiry of the limitation period and awarded the client compensation of the legal costs.
This case vividly exemplifies that it is important to take into possible contradictions between trade contracts and their standard forms to avoid potential disputes on this matter.