Voyage charter-party forms may differ widely depending upon the commodity and/or trade involved. All voyage charter-party forms have a basic anatomy. Like many other shipping contracts, a voyage charter-party form begins with the date and often the place where the negotiations took place.
Usually, preamble begins with the words “It is this day mutually agreed between . . .”. This emphasis the point that a charter-party contract comes into being the moment the parties reach agreement on all terms, in chartering world that moment is called a fixture. Voyage charter-party is a record of that agreement and includes:
- Names of the agreed parties (shipowners and charterers)
- Name of the ship (with ship description which usually includes flag, class, year of build, deadweight, loaded draft etc.)
- Ship’s present position and ship’s expected date of readiness to load (more important that is sometimes thought). Although later in voyage charter-party form there is a clause giving the laydays and cancelling date, the charterer bases his cargo arrangements on the information in the preamble and would have a case for damages if the shipowner deliberately slipped in another cargo and arrived very near the cancelling date as a result, possibly causing the charterer to incur demurrage on rail wagons barges etc.
- Details of the cargo (commodity, quantity, usually there will be a margin of, say, 5% or 10% more or less and this is most often in owner’s option as the precise quantity will be affected by the quantity of bunkers and stores the ship has on board as well as the permitted draft for that season and the parts of the world that the voyage involves – MOLOO)