Charter Party Forms

Voyage and Time Charter Parties are, as a rule, concluded on the basis of standard contract forms, and such documentation therefore plays a role of considerable importance in present chartering practice. In 19th century, shipowners and charterers first concerned themselves with the drafting of standard charter party forms. Standard charter party forms were originally drafted and employed by individual contracting parties, but joint action was later undertaken by groups of shipowners and charterers. Three organisations have played a significant role in the development of internationally utilized standard forms namely:

  1. Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom in London
  2. Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) in Copenhagen
  3. Association of  Ship Brokers and Agents (ASBA) in New York

These organisations have issued or approved a great number of standard charter-party forms, many of which are so called agreed documents as they result from negotiations between charterer and shipper interests, on the one hand, and shipowner interests on the other. In chartering practice, these documents are generally referred to as approved or official forms. Besides these three organisations’ standard charter party forms, there are various longstanding standard charter party forms which are in widespread use in different trades. A further type of standard charter party form is the private form (house charter party), which is issued and employed by individual firms. One of the main advantages from the use of such forms is that often the parties to a charter contract are domiciled in different countries and that the negotiations, which to a great extent are carried out through the intermediary of one or several shipbrokers, are often performed under considerable time pressure. By basing the negotiations on a standard form, the contents of which are well known or readily available to both sides, the parties can concentrate their attention on the particular points on which they require an individual regulation, leaving all other questions to be regulated by the terms of the standard form. Therefore, the use of the standard form means that the parties do not run the risk of being caught out by an unusual clause imposing unreasonable or unexpected burdens upon them. The use of the standard forms in international chartering has the additional advantage from a general legal standpoint, that they contribute to international uniformity; disparities between regulations prescribed in the various legal systems are partly neutralized, so that similar cases taken to litigation or arbitration will tend, to a certain extent, to bring the same result, irrespective of the jurisdiction under which they are decided. Almost all standard charter party forms are known by a code name such as:

  • GENCON form for general use where no specialized form is available)
  • BALTIME frequently used time charter form devised by BIMCO)
  • ASBATIME popular time charter form which was developed by the Association of Shipbrokers and Agents (ASBA)
  • NYPE New York Produce Exchange form is a time charter form which was developed by the Association of Shipbrokers and Agents (ASBA)