Starting Laytime

Most charterparties include express clauses allowing a certain amount of time from NOR to the commencement of laytime. This period is to allow the charterer time to prepare for the loading/discharge operations, for example, opening hatches, connecting lines etc. The Asbatankvoy charterparty, for example, provides at Clause 6 that laytime will commence 6 hours after receipt by the charterer or its agent of the NOR, or upon the vessel arriving in berth, whichever occurs first. Gencon 94 in Clause 6(c) gives varying amounts of time. Unless there is a specific provision in the charterparty, such as Clause 6 in Asbatankvoy and similar clauses in most other tanker charterparties, any time used before the preparation time expires will not count as laytime and will not advance the commencement of laytime (Khios Breeze (1958) 1 OS 469). Laycan and Starting Laytime: Charterparties usually specify two dates, the period in between being referred to as ‘Iaycan’. The effect of these is that it is agreed that laytime cannot commence before the earlier date and, if the ship is not ready by the later date, the charterer may have the option to cancel the charterparty. It was often thought that a NOR could not be given before the commencement of laydays under a charter, but this is incorrect unless there is an express provision to that effect. If no such provision exists, a valid NOR may be tendered at any time, but laytime will not start before the date specified in the charterparty. An example of this is Clause 5 of Asbatankvoy which states ‘Laytime shall not commence before the date stipulated in Part 1 except with charterer’s sanction.’ Determining when laytime commences can be contentious and will depend in each case on a careful consideration of the charterparty clauses in the light of all the facts. The parties are free to agree to allocate the risks of delays which reduces the scope for dispute.