Memorandum

A charterparty, properly signed, by those authorised to do so, sets out in written form the contract that has been made between the owner (or disponent owner) and the charterer. It factually records all the details of the agreement reached between the parties but one should always remember that the charterparty is the memorandum of the agreement; the contract itself will have been made (as we have seen in Lesson Three) by word of mouth, fax exchanges or whatever. Thus it can exist independently of the physical movements of the vessel and in some cases, especially in the fast-moving world of short-sea trading where a vessel may complete two or even three cargoes in one week, frequently the drafting of charterparties is some way behind physical events, and a ship may have loaded, carried the cargo and discharged, freight may have been paid and laytime calculated and settled even before a hard-pressed broker has set to work to draw up the contractual agreement – the charterparty. On the other hand, the availability of the charterparty may be an essential for trading purposes, the release of letters of credit, etc. and thus it should be the aim of every broker, no matter how hard pressed, to prepare a charterparty as soon as possible following the successful conclusion of a negotiation. Just occasionally, the preparation of the charterparty reveals an error in the negotiating process, and the sooner such errors are brought out into the open and reconciled the better for all concerned. Certain charterparties are ‘official’, in that they have been inspected and passed by an authoritative body – e.g. a chamber of shipping – whilst others have not been so treated or may have been found lacking in some respect. Certain organisations take it upon themselves on behalf of their members and, in the case of BIMCO, as a service to world shipping, to inspect and, where possible, to ‘recommend’ or ‘approve’ various forms, going so far as to themselves draft and issue some documents.