Voyage Charters

Page 128

Chapter 4

Proceeding to the Loading Port

[clause 1 continued]  
… now in position as stated in Box 8 4
and expected ready to load under this charter about the date 5
indicated in Box 9 … 6
that: 7
The said vessel shall proceed to the loading port or place…. 8
[clause 1 is continued below]


4.1 The date at which the vessel will arrive at the loading port or place1 and be ready to load is a matter of considerable importance to the charterer or shipper, who needs to know as soon and as accurately as possible when he must have the cargo ready to load, and who may well suffer loss if shipment is delayed. The owner, on the other hand, is usually unable to predict precisely when the vessel’s existing engagements will be completed or what conditions will be encountered on any intervening voyage, and it is in his interests to reserve as much latitude as possible to himself regarding the date when the vessel must be ready to load. It is, therefore, almost unknown for a charter to contain a contractual promise on the owner’s part, for breach of which he would be liable in damages, that the vessel will be ready to load by or on a specified date. Instead, voyage charters customarily seek to regulate the competing interests of owner and charterer by a combination of some of all of the following provisions:
  • (1) a statement of the position of the vessel at the date of the charter;
  • (2) a statement of the date when the vessel is “expected ready to load” or the like;
  • (3) a provision that the vessel shall proceed to the loading port, usually accompanied by a requirement that she shall do so “with all convenient speed”, or sometimes “all possible speed”;
  • (4) a provision that the master shall serve notices on the charterer or shipper stating the expected time of arrival of the vessel at the loading port; and
  • (5) a provision that the charterer may cancel the charter if the vessel is not ready at the loading port by a specified date, but which confers no right to damages in that event.

Page 129

The effect of the first four of these provisions, all save the fourth of which are found in the Gencon form of charter, is considered below. The cancelling clause is discussed in the context of clause 10.2

1. The position of the vessel at the date of the charter

4.2 Most voyage charter forms contain a space for inserting the position of the vessel at the time when she is fixed, and the Gencon form is no exception. However, the space is often completed with the word “trading”, which will cover every eventuality except when the vessel is laid up or undergoing construction or repair. Statements in a charter of the vessel’s position have, in the past, invariably been held to constitute conditions of the contract. The same conclusion has been reached with regard to the statements that the vessel has already sailed from a stated place on a specified date. Thus, any inaccuracy in these particulars has been held to entitle the charterer to claim damages and, if he so elects, to treat the contract as terminated.

A charterparty described the ship as being “now at Amsterdam”. At the date of the charter she was in fact off the Dutch coast, delayed by strong winds from entering the port, and she did not arrive at Amsterdam until four days later.

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