Commencement of Lay Time

‘Fast as can’ applies normally to ships that have their own gear and can load or discharge without use of shore equipment and stipulates that the cargo will be loaded and/or discharged ‘as fast as the vessel can’, often adding a further stipulation that charterers or shippers/receivers must be able to ‘deliver’ or ‘take-away’ cargo at a particular daily tonnage rate. Deadfreight: Where only part of a contracted cargo can be supplied and, consequently, where ‘deadfreight’ becomes payable to a shipowner/operator as a result, under English law laytime is applied only on the portion of cargo actually loaded. However, also under English law, a shipowner/ operator claiming deadfreight must return to the charterer any benefit received. Thus two laytime calculations should be carried out, one based on actual cargo loaded/discharged and the other on the original cargo that should have been loaded/discharged. Any difference in the owner’s favour should be credited to the charterer in return for payment of deadfreight. In the above case: Actual laytime 3.5 days. Original laytime 10000 tons / 2000 = 5 days. Laytime saved to be credited against deadfreight 1.5 days. American law is more straightforward in cases of deadfreight, calculating laytime on what has been loaded, plus tonnage equivalent to the deadfreight paid by charterers. COMMENCEMENT: For laytime to have ‘commenced’, a vessel must have ‘arrived’ at the place where cargo operations are to be performed (1) ‘arrival’: must be physically able to undergo cargo operations (2) ‘readiness’; and have dealt with (3) ‘contractual commitments’. Arrival: Laytime is a subject which lends itself to dispute, and the definition of whether or not a ship has ‘arrived’ in a laytime sense may sometimes be extremely legally complicated, there being much English law on the subject. Simply, to have ‘arrived’ at a port, a vessel must have reached either the loading/discharging place or, should that place be busy, the normal waiting place. Furthermore, a ship’s Master or agent must have tendered Notice of Readiness, in accordance with the contract requirements (e.g. ‘within office hours, Mondays to Fridays’).