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Songa Winds v Navig8 v Glencore

2nd Mar 2018

Alistair Schaff QC and Jocelin Gale acted for the successful claimant owners in this matter concerning maritime letters of indemnity.  The ultimate respondent and sub-charterer of the vessel, Glencore Agriculture BV, had requested that discharge of the relevant cargo be effected to its immediate buyer, Aavanti Industries Pte Ltd, and issued letters of indemnity against discharge without production of original bills of lading to Navig8 Chemicals Pool Ltd, as disponent owners, who in turn issued letters of indemnity on materially identical terms to the claimant owners. 

On the basis that discharge and delivery had been effected to Aavanti’s buyer, Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd, as opposed to Aavanti itself, Glencore had asserted that the letters of indemnity issued were not engaged.  The claimant owners thus brought proceedings for declaratory relief to the effect that the letters of indemnity had been validly triggered, coupled with an application for interim mandatory and declaratory relief, as against Navig8, which Navig8 in turn passed on to Glencore. 

In this important judgment, the Commercial Court has held that this was a case in which summary judgment would be appropriate, and granted final (as opposed to interim) declaratory relief to the effect that the letters of indemnity had been engaged by delivery to Ruchi as the person representing or acting for Aavanti. 

This Judgment, which can be obtained here, is the third in a trilogy of judgments concerning a key feature of the International P&I Clubs’ standard form for letters of indemnity for delivering cargo without production of original bills of lading, following the The “Bremen Max” [2009] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 81 and The “Zagora” [2017] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 194.

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