Laytime Exceptions Clauses

Laytime Exceptions Clauses

Many charterparties contain clauses which seek to exclude the liability of either or both parties if certain specified events happen. For example, Clause 19 of the Asbatankvoy charterparty sets out a long list of events for which the parties are not liable. Here, the question arises whether an event contained in the general exceptions clause operate to suspend the running of laytime or time on demurrage.

The rule is that general exceptions clauses, such as Clause 19 of the Asbatankvoy charterparty, do not apply to laytime or time on demurrage: The Lefthero [1992] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 109. The reasoning behind this rule is that almost all charterparties contain a separate regime dealing with lay time and demurrage which has been expressly agreed between the parties and which should not be affected by a general exceptions clause which makes no mention of lay time or demurrage.

The rule applies strictly so that, even where there is no separate regime in the charterparty for laytime and demurrage, for example in the Sugar Charterparty 1969, the general exceptions clause will still not apply.

Some printed charterparty forms make this rule clear. For example, the ExxonMobil Voy2005 charterparty at clause 29 provides expressly that the general exceptions clause is not intended to apply to laytime and time on demurrage. However, it is possible for the parties to agree that a general exceptions clause will apply to laytime and demurrage by inserting express wording in the relevant clause to that effect.

Alongside any express exceptions agreed in the charterparty, laytime and time on demurrage will not run where the delay is caused by a fault of the shipowner. Time may also not run where the vessel is taken away by the owner for its own purposes unconnected with its performance of the particular charterparty.

General exceptions clauses in charterparties will not apply to issues of laytime and demurrage unless they are clearly worded to have that effect.