Baltime Charter Party

The lack of clear assistance as to how responsibility should be divided was the cause of the drafting of the Inter Club Agreement. The Clubs (as the name implies) were jointly the authors of the Agreement but it is not binding on their members although the Clubs amongst themselves agree to recommend it. The Agreement is fair and equitable and is aimed to save a lot of money which would be spent in legal wrangling if the Agreement did not exist. It is a mechanical division of responsibility between owner and charterer for the settlement of and/or contribution to cargo claims. Often these days the agreement is actually expressly incorporated into the charter party by way of a rider clause which means, of course, that it is binding on the two principal parties respectively.  In the case of the Baltime charter party, obliges the charterers to arrange and pay for loading, trimming, stowing and unloading and the judicial interpretation of these words is that the charterers are responsible and that whereas the common law might have placed responsibility on the owners, these words contractually shift that responsibility to charterers. It could be argued that the appearance of the words “under the supervision of the Captain” does not create any rights that did not exist under common law. The Master, being responsible for the safety of his ship and crew and being charged with ensuring that his ship is seaworthy when embarking on a cargo laden voyage, would inherently have the right to oversee the stowage and to intervene if he thought the charterer was stowing in such a way as to prejudice the safety and seaworthy trim of the vessel. Thus these words do not basically shift responsibility back to the owners but it would probably be held that if the Master did actively intervene in stowage and loss or damage to cargo resulted directly from that intervention, the owners would be responsible, not the charterers. One recognised way to swing the loading/stowage responsibility back on to owners is to add in the words “and responsibility” after the   word “supervision”. This will get round the restrictive interpretation of the simple word “supervision” imposed by the courts.