Ship Performance

If one of the most important obligations of a charterer under a time charter is to pay the hire for the use of the vessel, then a fundamental requirement on the part of the owner is to provide and maintain a vessel that properly performs the voyages ordered. A charterer will seek to maximise the commercial use from the vessel and will want to see that the vessel keeps speed at a maximum and bunker consumption at a minimum. When time charter rates at very high levels and bunker prices reaching the highest, even a day lost can mean that a substantial sum is in issue. If disputes over proper performance are to be avoided then it is essential that both parties to the charterparty are fully aware of their rights and obligations and senior shipboard personnel are properly informed of their responsibilities. English law has established certain principles which have application but often technical issues are involved. As with much of English Shipping Law the principles that have evolved are based on fundamental aspects of contract law. It is important to understand that it is the parties who regulate the relationship between them by what they put in the contract. The courts dislike interfering with commercial relationships and will do the minimum to write or re-write agreements. For this reason clear, precise and fair performance clauses written into charters can do an immense amount to avoid or reduce disputes.