Delivery time row ends with Commercial Court ruling

An international sugar trade deal turned sour when the seller failed to deliver on time and the case ended up in the Commercial Court.

Under international trading rules, buyers are obliged to put up a letter of credit in advance to guarantee payment before the goods set sail.

Under advice from commercial firm Middleton Potts, the buyer, Cereal Investments Company (CIC), lost the case in the Commercial Court against the seller, ED&F Man. Shipping specialist firm Jackson Parton advised ED&F Man on the case.

The dispute arose over the timing of the delivery and whether the contract had agreed a delivery date.

ED&F Man had claimed that the contractual shipment would not complete in October and requested that the letter of credit allowed for November shipments.

CIC refused to amend the letter of credit and held ED&F Man in default of contract.

The claim was dismissed in arbitration but CIC fought on, taking it to the Commercial Court.

Mr Justice Timothy Walker agreed with the arbitrators and ruled that the shipment period did not need to complete within October. It was only required that the shipment began loading in October, Walker J said.

Walker J refused permission to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

Middleton Potts partner David Lucas instructed Nicholas Hamblen QC of 20 Essex Street Chambers to act on behalf of CIC.

Jackson Parton partner Nick Parton instructed Andrew Baker QC of 20 Essex Street Chambers to act on behalf of ED&F Man.