Voyage Charter Parties and Bills of Lading

Issues for Consideration

Written by Tim Davies, Senior Claims Manager and Nicola Cox, Head of Defence. 

The two BIMCO clauses are designed for time charter parties, not for voyage charter parties.

In a voyage charter, if the vessel does not meet her laycan due to delays caused in the vessel stemming compliant bunkers, owners may be liable to charterers in damages (see The Pacific Voyager [2018]). Therefore, particularly if owners anticipate that there may be delays in stemming compliant fuel before the laycan, it is suggested that owners do not include any “expected arrival” or “loading date” in the charter party. Alternatively, owners may wish to include an express liberty in the charter party to postpone the arrival/loading date in the event that the vessel suffers delay in stemming compliant fuel.

Delays and additional expenses may also be incurred during the charter party due to malfunction of any scrubbers on board. In that event and because any scrubber installed will usually comprise the ship’s machinery/equipment, it is likely that owners will be liable for such delay and/or expenses. Alternatively, delays and additional expenses may be incurred if no scrubber is fitted and the vessel needs to deviate in order to obtain compliant bunkers. Owners and charterers may wish to include terms in their charter parties for how liability for such delay and/or expense is to be allocated. See also the INTERTANKO’s Scrubber Clause for Time Charterparties.

Note, however, that if the vessel has to deviate to stem compliant fuel when she has cargo on board, the vessel may be held to be unseaworthy under the terms of the contract of carriage if owners have not made appropriate provision for the supply of compliant bunkers before the commencement of the voyage and a suitable “liberty” provision has not been included in the contract of carriage.

Parties may also wish to include a bunker adjustment factor to compensate for price differentials for compliant fuel.

Members are further advised that the Club has agreed fixed rates with some ot the Club’s preferred English law firms to review and amend Members’ charter party clauses so as to be “2020 ready” – please contact Nicola Cox. 

*In this article, bunkers that comply with MARPOL Annex VI, as amended from time to time, and/or by any other applicable lawful authority are described as “compliant bunkers".