Keywords: Contract, fertiliser, inspection, sampling, analysis, contamination, CRH, IMSBC Code
It is a well-known feature of the fertiliser industry that some products must be transported for great distances. Manufacturing facilities are increasingly based in regions where one or more of the necessary raw materials such as natural gas, coal, phosphate rock and/or potash are available. Other countries with good features for agricultural production but few natural resources therefore need to import fertiliser in order to feed their people and also to export agricultural produce to obtain foreign exchange.
The only practical method for transport of most fertilisers for long distances is by ship.
Previous Proceedings of the Society e.g. Connors (1992) have described the quantities of fertiliser that need to be moved. Others have described some of the safety considerations, particularly with respect to ammonium nitrate. The impact of specific anti-caking agents has been described. However, no Proceedings has been presented to the Society to describe the practical aspects of the overall operation within all of the relevant parameters such as legislation and product quality.
Many of the problems described in this paper were solved without a great amount of technical knowledge. However, because of the high value of each cargo it is often found that all parties will deny liability for any problems until the technical position is shown to be unassailable.
Quite a few of the problems arise through the intervention of lawyers. This is to be expected because the value of a cargo of fertiliser is very high — a large cargo is worth millions of pounds. The negotiations between the parties can be protracted and can end up in formal legal proceedings.
In general terms the resolution of problems proceeds along the following stages:
– Amicable resolution between technical staff (no compensation required)
– Amicable resolution between commercial staff (compensation agreed as appropriate)
– Amicable resolution between legal staff (appropriate compensation paid)
– Less amicable resolution by mediation (parties in the same building but in different rooms; legally trained mediator acts as a go-between. Parties must be willing to be flexible)
– Resolution by arbitration (Legally trained arbitrator hears the arguments from all parties and gives their verdict on the way forward)
– Resolution by High Court proceedings (This is the most expensive stage and is frequently avoided by out-of-court settlement)
David C Thompson, Consultant, 67 Tunstall Avenue, Billingham, TS23 3QD, United Kingdom
28 pages, 1 figure, 6 tables, 3 plates, 13 references.