Continent Grain Charterparty Code Name: "SYNACOMEX 2000"
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(Printed in BIMCO Bulletin 4, 2001)
The SYNACOMEX charter party, which was first published in 1957 and subsequently amended in 1960, 1974 and 1990, has recently been revised to reflect changes in trade practices and to introduce a modern BIMCO-style box-layout.
The latest revision has been prepared by the "Syndicat National du Commerce Extérieur des Céréales" (the French Union of Grain Exporters - SYNACOMEX) and the "Comité Central des Armateurs de France" (French Shipowners' association - CCAF), with the assistance of the "Chambre Arbitrale Maritime de Paris" (Maritime Arbitration Chamber of Paris - CAMP) and the "Chambre Syndicale des Courtiers d'Affrètement Maritime et de Vente de Navires de France (the French Shipbrokers' Association).
The amended SYNACOMEX, to be known as SYNACOMEX 2000, was formally approved by the BIMCO's Documentary Committee at its meeting held in Athens in May 2000.
A4 Format with Box Layout
The new A4 format and the BIMCO-style box layout lend themselves to the requirements of modern means of communication and the reproduction of documents. The boxes in Part I provide a convenient method for entering the form's variable information, thereafter providing a useful summary of all the important terms - although additional clauses may be required to complete the agreed terms, as regards, for example, an extensive description of the ship.
The clauses in Part II may be amended to fit the negotiations concluded, which will be facilitated by the use of an electronic editing system such as BIMCO's idea (Internet Document Editing Application).
A comparison of SYNACOMEX 2000 and SYNACOMEX 90
The drafting group responsible for the new revision has presented the following observations and comments on the more salient points of the revision:
Clause 2 - (Loading Port(s) and Cargo)
The words "in unobstructed main holds" in the second paragraph have been added in order to avoid an almost compulsory typewritten amendment.
Clause 4 (Freight)
The vocabulary in this provision has been modernised and the allowance of 0.50% has been deleted as corresponding to the obsolete concept of "non weighing" dating back from the times when freight was payable at destination on delivered weight or on intaken weight less 0.50% - said to represent wastage or shrinkage.
The addition of "howsoever assessed" in the second paragraph broadens the basis of the taxes which may be levied on the ship at port and should avoid disputes about Quay dues or Wharfage levied on the ship but assessed from the quantity and nature of the cargo or, eventually, disputes about freight taxes also levied on the ship.
Clause 7 (Vessel's Positions, Notices)
Notices of E.T.A. at discharging port have been provided, as currently required.
Clause 8 (Laytime)
In order to avoid a list of all possible means available to tender a notice of readiness, it has been provided that such notice may be remitted "by hand or by any means of telecommunication". It remains that the notice must be "in writing".
An anomaly has been removed from the second paragraph dealing with disputes: from now it will be "the party in the wrong" - i.e. the party that the surveyor contradicts about the readiness of the ship to load - which will bear the costs of the survey.
Clause 15 (Brokerage)
The brokerage commission shall be deductible from the freight payment, unless otherwise stipulated.
Clause 16 (Address Commission)
The amount of the address commission is now left open to negotiation.
Clause 21 (Lien Clause)
Only the disposition concerning Owner's lien on the cargo is left in the revised edition. The "Cesser clause" has been removed, failing any legal merit.
Former Clause 22 (Penalties)
This clause has also been removed as being incompatible with the general Law of Contracts. It is worth remarking that the clause limited the responsibility of the party in breach in case of "non performance" but not in case of mis-performance.
Clause 22 - (Responsibilities and Immunities)
In the preamble it is provided that the incorporation of the Hague or Hague-Visby Rules in the charter party is subject to the provisions and stipulations of the charter ("Except as otherwise provided and stipulated in this Charter Party...). The purpose of this is to avoid that a purely legalistic interpretation of the charter party may result in the denial of its FIO Clause ("cargo shall be loaded.../discharged at the risk and expense of Shippers / Charterers / Receivers...), by reason of the pre-eminence of International Conventions which put cargo handling under the Carrier's responsibility (Brussels Convention 1924/1968 - Art. 3 - § 2 : "...the carrier shall properly and carefully load, handle, stow ... and discharge the goods ...").
It is important to note that in the case of a fixture concerning one of the countries that adhere to the Hamburg Rules, many of whom are active in the grain trade, the Charterer should be aware that he runs the risk that the Owner may claim an indemnity from him for the loss or damage the Owner may have had to pay out to the bill of lading holder by virtue of the Hamburg Rules (which would not be the case under the Hague/Hague-Visby Rules - in consequence of a nautical error of the Master, as an example of the best known difference between both Conventions).
Such a risk is probably rare but cannot be ignored. That risk must be assumed knowingly or must be insured against if it cannot be negotiated with the Owner. Some owners may accept it after they have agreed, for instance, to carry a cargo destined to Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, or Tunisia, all signatories of the Hamburg Rules.
Clause 23 (Amended General Ice Clause)
Both references to "the spring" have been deleted from the General Ice Clause, as being meaningless.
Clause 27 (War Risks)
VOYWAR 1950 has been replaced by BIMCO's VOYWAR 1993 which is better adapted to the nature of modern conflicts.
Otherwise the SYNACOMEX charter party has been updated with the new address of the Chambre Arbitrale Maritime de Paris (Clause 28) now refers to the York Antwerp Rules 1994 and any subsequent modification thereof.
Supplies of the SYNACOMEX 2000 Charter Party may be obtained via idea 2003 or from:
Syndicat National du Commerce Extérieur des Céréales
Bourse de Commerce
F-75040 Paris Cedex 01