In May I attended the 11th International Conference on Tanker Demurrage and here is my account of what what went on. I have attended almost all of these conferences since they started and I think this was one of the best amongst them for the content and quality of speakers.
David Clark, lawyer at Waltons and Morse, opened the first day with a paper on ‘Interim Port Clauses and STS Clauses’. This was a great run through the history and background to theses clauses and David pointed out the nuances of the different clauses and the implications of certain words. David’s presenting style makes a subject like this easy to understand and I’ve already had to take a look at it as I’ve since been asked a question on an STS Clause.
Next up was Yvonne Baatz, Professor of Maritime Law at the University of Southampton, with the subject ‘Update on Time Bars – The effect of recent cases’. Yvonne is very easy to listen to as she commands attention at every point during what could have been a dry subject. Yvonne took us through the landmark cases and brought us up-to-date with the latest cases where I am left with an impression that the courts could be softening their stance on Time Bars. Wouldn’t it be great to get a case than finally nails this down and stops people playing games in this area, mind you what would we find to argue about instead?
Nick Austin, partner at Clyde & Co, took the podium after lunch and although he claimed to be nervous to follow Yvonne – he was a former student of Yvonne’s – he didn’t show it as he took us through ‘Oil Sales Contracts – Can you always recover your charterparty demurrage?’ I could have answered the question before he stood up – it’s NO! Thankfully Nick gave us a much more detailed and eloquent answer.
Casper Cleemann, General Manager Eitzen chemical A/S was up next with ‘The challenges to ship owners in the trends of modern charterparties’. You can always rely on Casper to give his paper with a generous helping of humour and he didn’t disappoint this time, although his message was serious and often critical of charterers in their quest to reduce and/or delay the payment of demurrage.
After the tea break a mock arbitration followed with Andrew Wilding, Managing Director Asdem Asia Pte, on one side of the argument up against Sarah Hunt, lawyer at Holman Fenwick Willan Geneva, on the other. They pitted their wits and were out to persuade the arbitrator who was none other than Roger Sepkes, Managing Director Asdem Ltd. My only experience of arbitration has been one where it was decided on papers only. In this instance where the arguments were presented orally it struck me that it was a very formal procedure and one where a lot of facts and information is presented and this must be a real challenge for an arbitrator to assimilate.
Dinner that evening was held at the May Fair Hotel and I was pleased to hear Martin Wisdom, partner at Arbis, give the after dinner address. As it was Asdem’s 25 year birthday it was fitting that Martin gave a potted history of Asdem and offered his congratulations to Roger Sepkes and his team for their contribution to the industry.
Next day first up was Simon Rickwood, Senior Demurrage Negotiator BP Oil International Ltd, who spoke on the subject ‘Virtual Readiness’. Simon delivered a very interesting paper on the slowing down of vessels when it is known that there will be a delay in berthing and discharging the cargo. The principle is that the Owners position on demurrage is protected and counted as if it had arrived at the earlier time and the savings on bunkers are shared between the Owners and Charterers. This is a commendable initiative in this age of global warming but it is still in its infancy and there are a number of questions unresolved, such as, what happens if the vessel breaks down on passage?
Kevin Jandora, Principal Coordinator at LEAP, gave us an update on ‘LEAP’s GTCs for trading contracts and barges’. LEAP is a collection of companies working on a set of terms that will be made available for trading which will give all parties standard laytime and demurrage terms, amongst other things. I won’t say too much here - see my update in the latest Asdem Barge Newsletter where I gave a review of the LEAP Workshop held on 8th May, the day before this conference.
Andrew Wilding, Managing Director Asdem Asia, was on the platform again today, this time giving us his paper on ‘Beware the pitfalls in the wording of Exceptions and Interruption Clauses’. This was a very informative session and I can see that there was much more material in his paper than there was time to cover and this is certainly another paper I want to read again.
After lunch there chap named Phil Stalley (who? I can hear you ask!) spoke on ‘Demurrage – Tricks of the Trade’. In this session I went through some of the tricks played by all parties in this game of demurrage to either avoid paying demurrage or to maximise recoveries. I had a lot of fun putting this paper together and I’m sure there were a few tricks that I missed out or maybe I’m not aware of.
The conference was rounded off by Jeremy Davies, Partner Holman Fenwick Willan Geneva, who treated us to another one of his workshops where we worked through some case studies. As usual it was thought provoking and Jeremy was able to divide the audience on a few points, but put over in Jeremy’s entertaining style.
All in all it was a very good two days and I always come away thinking that it’s a shame we have to wait two years before the next one.
Were you at the conference? What did you think of it? Let us know what you think here.