what is the meaning of Charter documentation in maritime law and shipping law

This section examines the documentation associated with charters from the
perspective of the charterer. There are significant differences between time
charters and voyage charters in respect of the functions of the charterer and
hence of some of the documents involved.
Both voyage and time charters
The ship’s agent at the loading and discharging ports prepares a statement of
facts, detailing the dates and times of arrival of the ship and the commencement
and completion of loading and discharging. This statement also details:
• the quantity of cargo loaded or discharged each day;
• normal working hours at the port;
• the hours worked and the hours stopped with the reasons for the stoppages,
such as bad weather, a strike or breakdown of equipment;
• the number of gangs; and
• any relevant remarks.
This document is sometimes referred to as a port log. BIMCO publishes a
Standard Statement of Facts (Short Form) and a Standard Statement of Facts
(Oil and Chemical Tank Vessels).
Voyage charters
In certain voyage charters, it is agreed that the charterer can appoint his own
port agents (see Ship’s agent). In these circumstances, he needs to appoint
an agent at each of the ports of the voyage. The first of these is appointed
before the voyage commences, the others either at the same time or at least
well before the ship arrives at the respective port.
The time sheet is a statement drawn up by the ship’s agent at the loading
and discharging ports, which details the time worked in loading or discharging
the cargo together with the amount of laytime used. This latter figure,
when compared with the time allowed in the charter- party, is used by the
shipowner and charterer to calculate demurrage or despatch, as the case may
be. BIMCO publishes a Standard Time Sheet (short form).
Time charters
Time charterers always appoint their own port agents. Before the charter
is agreed, the charterer contacts prospective agents at each of the ports he
intends the vessel to call at during the period of the charter. He advises the
prospective agent of the intended call and asks the agent for a pro forma disbursements
account, that is, a statement of the expenses which are likely to
be incurred, including port charges, pilotage, towage and the agent’s fee. This
account is used to help the charterer calculate in advance the viability of the
voyage. It also serves as a basis for a request for funds by the agent when he is
appointed, such funds to be made available prior to the ship’s arrival. Before
the voyage commences, or at least well before the vessel arrives at each respective
port, the charterer appoints the port agents. Terms are agreed, usually
in writing, with the agent, including the agency fee and the duties required.
Once this is done, the charterer sends each agent a set of instructions relating
to the intended voyage, setting out details of the cargo, requirements such as
the frequency of notices to be sent, and contact details for the other agents
concerned with the voyage.
An on hire survey, or on hire condition survey, is carried out and the
results typed up by the surveyor(s) for the owner and charterer. This survey is
carried out at the time the ship is delivered at the beginning of the period of
the charter. It is carried out to determine the condition of the ship which may
subsequently be compared with her condition at the end of the charter. The
quantity of bunkers is ascertained for comparison with the amounts specified
in the charter- party. By agreement, the ship is inspected by one surveyor only
or one surveyor for each of the two parties. Which party pays for the survey
and whether the time taken counts for the purpose of calculating hire money
are matters agreed in the charter- party.
A delivery certificate is issued and signed by both charterer and owner,
certifying the time, date and place of delivery of the ship, together with any
notations by the charterer concerning the failure of the ship to comply in any
respect with the terms of the charter- party.
As soon as possible after the contract is agreed, the charterer sends
his instructions to the master. These contain details of the cargo, the
voyage(s), names and contact details of all the port agents and bunkering
After the ship completes at each of the ports, the agent sends the charterer
a disbursements account. This is an account of all sums paid out in respect
of the ship’s call at the port such as pilotage, towage, port charges, any cash
advanced to the master, supply of provisions and stores and the agency fee.
The account is supported by receipts known as vouchers.
If during the charter the ship or an important piece of equipment breaks
down, the ship is taken off hire by the charterer. Hire money is temporarily
suspended until the breakdown is repaired. In practice, hire money may
continue to be paid by the charterer, and refunded after the ship comes back
on hire, together with a refund covering the amount of bunkers consumed
during this period. The document detailing the off hire period is called the off
hire statement.
At the end of the charter when the ship is redelivered to the owner, an off
hire survey, or off hire condition survey, is carried out. This inspection
is carried out to determine whether, or to what extent, the ship is in the same
condition, wear and tear excepted, as on delivery. The quantity of bunkers is
ascertained for comparison with the amounts specified in the charter- party.
The results of the survey are typed up and sent to the owner and the charterer.
A redelivery certificate is drawn up and signed by or on behalf of the
shipowner and the charterer certifying the time, date and place of redelivery
of the ship.