The Main Features of a Voyage Charter Party:
The shipowner must undertake certain obligations before and during the performance of the voyage charter:
1. Provide an accurate description of the ship.
2. Provide a ship that is seaworthy and cargo worthy.
3. Perform and incur the costs of a ballast voyage.
4. Make the ship available at the port of loading (arrived ship).
5. Perform the carrying voyage with reasonable dispatch.
6. Not to deviate unless for the purpose of saving life or property at sea.
7. Arrive at the port of discharge (arrived ship) and have the ship ready for discharging operations.
8. Deliver the cargo.
Similarly, a charterer undertakes certain obligations:
1. Provide an accurate description of the cargo.
2. Nominate safe ports/berths so that the vessel can proceed for loading and discharging operations.
3. Provide the amount of the said cargo as agreed in the time period stipulated and of the quality stated.
4. Bring the cargo alongside.
5. Perform loading and discharging operations within the stipulated laytime.
6. Pay the freight and other mainly cargo-related costs.
Breach of any of these obligations does not give the shipowner the right to rescind the charter but does allow him or her to sue for damages, unless such breach is of a frustrating character.
During the loading and discharging window, it is the responsibility of the shipowner to make the ship available at the agreed port. If the ship does not arrive within the stipulated time frame, then the charterer has an absolute right to cancel the charter party. The charterer does not have the right to cancel until the canceling day has been reached. The ship must load/discharge in accordance with the terms agreed.
The responsibility of the charterer to furnish the agreed cargo is absolute. The charterer may be excused of his or her responsibility to provide a cargo in the presence of intervening events that would make the agreement illegal or due to an act of God (prior to the ship being placed on demurrage). The charterer must provide all the means that were agreed upon for the safe loading and discharge of the ship.