Star Reefers won $16.5 million in damages from a Russian fruit importer that terminated charters on the Norwegian ship-owner’s refrigerated cargo ships 14 months before their expiration.
The damages were awarded by the High Court in London after it ruled a subsidiary of St. Petersburg-based JFC Group terminated the 36-month charters on the basis of spurious allegations relating to the performance of three vessels. Star Reefers was found to have exercised the utmost diligence in the technical management and operation of the ships.
For several months prior to the cancellation of the charters in September 2010, JFC’s Cyprus-based subsidiary Kalistad failed to pay charter fees on time and sought to renegotiate the hire rate. Star Reefers held talks with Kalistad regarding the company’s cash flow problems but “regrettably Kalistad decided to end these discussions and terminate the charters wrongfully,” Star Reefers said after the court ruling.
“This case is important for both Star Reefers and the shipping industry generally,” said Star Reefers CEO Simon Stevens. “It sends a clear message to JFC and to others that those who renege on their commitments will be properly held to account.”
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