Uncertainties in laytime definitions currently used in charter parties have been addressed in the latest Laytime Definitions of Charter Parties 2013, created by a shipping industry working group consisting of BIMCO, the Baltic Exchange, Comitė Maritime International (CMI) and the Federation of National Associations of Shipbrokers and Agents (FONASBA).
The new document sets out statements of meaning of words and phrases commonly used in the context of laytime and reflects contemporary market understanding based on the current state of English law.
Separate meanings have been given to the different formulations of phrases such as “Weather Working” day, new definitions included covering “Always Accessible” and “Whether in Port or Not” while a number of other provisions have been updated or clarified.
The move is a significant one as it reinstates the original 1980 concept of definitions and reflects developments in case law and changes in commercial practice.
The definitions were last updated as the Voyage Charter Party Laytime Interpretation Rules (Voylayrules) in 1993.
Chairman of the Working Group, Jean-Pierre Laffaye (BIMCO) said: “These provisions bring much needed clarity to the shipping markets and iron out a good deal of uncertainty. In a tough market, the amount of time a vessel spends unloading or loading cargo is under great scrutiny and it is therefore vital that imprecise laytime definitions and subtleties of interpretation do not provide grounds for expensive legal disputes when an interpretation is tested in the courts.”
The Baltic Exchange will be incorporating the new definitions into its code of conduct, the Baltic Code and definitions are now available for incorporation into charter parties or used as an agreed reference during dispute resolution. They can also be used as an educational resource.
Copies of the Laytime Definitions of Charter Parties 2013 together with explanatory notes are freely available from the chartering section of www.bimco.org