Elapsed Time

More easily overlooked can be the time factor affecting timecharter deliveries and redeliveries. Let us assume that a vessel delivers on timecharter in London for a trip to Bombay, where she will redeliver. Let us also assume that the voyage will take exactly 30 days (720 hours) and the daily hire rate of the vessel is US $9,000. If the time charterparty stipulates that delivery and redelivery are to be calculated in ‘local’ time, the effect would be that the vessel will remain ‘on hire’ for some five hours in excess of the actual time taken and this can be of benefit to a vessel’s owners, who will undoubtedly claim extra hire of US $1,875 for those five hours. On the other hand, a vessel proceeding on the same terms in the reverse direction will ‘lose’ five hours of hire – an advantage, therefore, to her time charterers. Those interested in equity will doubtless ask why a timecharterer should pay more hire than for the period a ship actually spends on timecharter, or as shipowner receive less than the time a ship is hired out. In this they would echo current English Law on the subject, which has established the principle of “elapsed time” – perhaps more easily understood by most of us as “stop-watch time”. To understand elapsed time, one has to assume that a stop-watch is started the moment a ship delivers and time runs continuously (less any off-hire periods) until it is halted upon redelivery. The time that has accumulated is the elapsed time and is the legal period on hire, unless the parties have specifically agreed in their contract to be bound by local times for delivery and/or redelivery. Another way of achieving a timecharter period based on elapsed or stop-watch time is to apply a ‘standard’ to delivery and redelivery, such as GMT. The effect of this approach as an alternative to local time is illustrated below. The important thing is to specify in a time charterparty whether local time or GMT is to apply to delivery and redelivery times. If the charterparty remains silent on this aspect, in the event of a legal dispute the result depends on the legal code which applies to the contract, and there can be varying results. A recent American arbitrator, for example, found that in the event of silence in the charterparty, local time would be deemed to apply. English Law, as explained above, would specify actual ‘elapsed’ time, or time established by a common standard such as GMT at both ends of a timecharter.