Riva Stahl GmbH v. The "Bergen Sea" et al.

In Carriage of Goods by Sea on (Updated )

This was an appeal from a decision of the Trial Division in which an application for summary judgment by the Defendants based on a time limitation defence was allowed. The case illustrates the dangers to Plaintiffs of suit time extensions. The Plaintiffs in the case obtained a suit time extension from the shipowner to June 13, 1995. This extension was conditional on the Plaintiffs obtaining a similar extension from charterers. The Plaintiffs did obtain a suit time extension from charterers but it was to a date of June 30, 1995. This extension was also conditional on the Plaintiffs obtaining a similar extension from owners. The Plaintiffs were unaware of, or failed to appreciate that, the extensions were not similar in that they expired on different days. The Plaintiffs issued a Statement of Claim on June 28, 1995, two days before the charterer’s extension expired but after the owner’s extension had expired. Both Defendants brought a summary judgment application to dismiss the action as being out of time. The Trial Division granted the application holding that there was no binding agreement to extend suit time to either June 13, 1995 or June 30, 1995, and further holding that the Defendants had not waived the time bar defence and were not estopped from raising it by reason of their continued negotiations with the Plaintiffs. The Court of Appeal agreed with the Trial Judge that there were no effective time extensions in place when the action was commenced and that there was no waiver or estoppel.