Pan Ocean Co Ltd v Daelim Corporation  EWHC 391 (Comm) (24 February 2023) DL LILAC, involved an appeal under section 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 heard by Sir Ross Cranston acting as a High Court Judge. The issue of law was:
“whether there was an implied term of the subject time charter having the effect that where the vessel was off hire under clause 69 after a failed holds inspection and the Master advised that hold cleaning had been completed and called for a reinspection, the charterer was obliged ‘to have the vessel re-inspected without delay’.”
The case involved a time charter trip in early 2017 on an amended NYPE 1993 form to carry a cargo of urea in bulk. Clause 69 was headed “BIMCO Hold Cleaning/Residue Disposal For Time Charter Parties” and provided:
“Vessel’s holds on delivery or on arrival 1st load port to be clean swept/washed down by fresh water and dried so as to receive Charterers intention cargoes in all respects free of salt, rust scale and previous cargo residue to the satisfaction of the independent surveyor.
If vessel fails to pass any holds inspection the vessel to be placed off-hire until the vessel passes the same inspection and any expense/time incurred thereby for Owners account.”
The charterers deducted US$110,765 in hire and US$16,308 in bunkers arising out of the failure of a cargo holds inspection at Jubail (the loading port). The holds initially failed an inspection between 0700 and 1230 on 16 February 2017 due to the presence of rust, paint flakes and cargo residue. At 14.30 on 19 February 2017 the vessel was ordered off-berth. An hour later the master notified the agents that the vessel had been cleaned and requested a reinspection. At 22.18 the vessel shifted to the inner anchorage and rebirthed at 20.42 on 3 March 2017. At 0700 on 4 March 2017, the holds were reinspected at 11.00 the vessel passed the inspection
The owners contended that it was an implied term of the charter party that the charterers should carry out any reinspection with reasonable diligence and without any undue delay and the charterers were in breach of that implied term because the reinspection took so long to arrange. They argued further that the charterers were not entitled to treat the vessel as off-hire after 1530 on 19 February because any loss of time after then was caused by the charterers’ breach of their obligation to arrange a reinspection with diligence. The owners also referred in their closing submissions to an arbitration report in Lloyd’s Maritime Law Newsletter (“LMLN”) 17/10 “where the clause used was virtually identical to that adopted in the instant case.
Sir Ross Cranston concluded that the Award could be read in such a way that the Tribunal did in fact apply the correct legal test for implied terms notwithstanding the reference to “reasonable” in paragraph 25 of the Award. In the opening words of paragraph 25 the Tribunal indicated that it was adopting the owners implied term argument, in which their closing submissions had referred to the “need” for an implied term, and that commercially any other interpretation was not sensible – a reference to the necessity and obviousness benchmarks in Lord Neuberger’s judgment in Marks & Spencer plc v BNP Paribas Securities Services Trust Co (Jersey) Ltd  AC 742.
Any implied term had to oblige both parties to take reasonable steps to cooperate to organise a reinspection without undue delay. That was all that would be required under the test of necessity for an implied term to protect both parties from delay of the other side and would be consistent with clause 69. The Tribunal was wrong in law to find that the vessel was immediately back on hire once the Master had notified the agents on 19 February 2017 that the holds were ready for reinspection. That was inconsistent with clause 69 of the charterparty, and did not accord with the implied term as found by the Tribunal.
What the Tribunal needed to do was to decide by when the reinspection should have been undertaken had there been compliance with the implied obligation to exercise reasonable diligence to have the vessel reinspected without undue delay. The case wasremitted to the arbitrators todecide what could and should have been done by the parties regarding reinspection, whether either party was in breach in this regard, the relevant timescales (e.g., the time within which the reinspection could have been arranged and completed had there been no breach of the implied obligation), and the financial consequences of any breach.