Voyage Charter Ship Fixtures

When a charterer requires a ship, they will instruct their shipbrokers or several shipbrokers, giving details such as: Cargo, Loading and Discharge Port or Ports (with tankers this is more likely to be a geographical range) rather than a port, Freight (indications) charterparty and clauses Dates. This is known as ‘an invitation to treat’. The ship owner will make an offer via a broker; this will contain some or all of the following information: Ship’s name and previous name, Flag, Year of Build, Class, Description of vessel, including cargo-handling equipment, Last three cargoes, Cargo details and quantity including percentage more or less. Loading and discharge ranges, Freight rate, how to be paid, e.g. $ to owners’ bank in New York, Laydays/Cancelling, ETA . . . position, Demurrage, charterparty and additional terms, Worldscale terms and conditions (tankers) or loading and discharge rates and laytime conditions i.e. SHEX or SHINC, Owners’ option to slow steam down to knots, Commission, Time limit on the offer. This offer will be passed to the charterers via the ship broker, and if passed verbally it will be followed by a telex. The reason that the telex is still used (in countries where it is still valid, i.e. no longer in the UK, Norway or Italy) is that it has an ‘answerback’ facility and this will provide evidence of when the offer is received by the other party. This is very important in a situation where it is necessary to establish whether an offer was ‘in time’ or not. An alternative method is to send an email and then telephone the recipient to confirm receipt of the message. The charterer can then reject, accept, counter, ‘accept except’ or ‘accept on subjects’. The negotiations will continue with each side making counter-offers until the details including terms are agreed and the charter will be agreed apart from the subjects . . . Note that under English Law there is no contract until all the subjects are lifted. When the subjects are finally ‘lifted’, the negotiated terms are collated into the charterparty. While waiting for the subjects to be lifted and before the charterparty is produced, the ship broker will send a ‘recap’ (recapitulation) message to both parties, detailing all the points agreed by the parties. This is the point at which the owner and charterer check with their notes and corrections, if any are made, to ensure that the charterparty reflects what has been agreed. In order to save time, a fixture may be made on the basis of last done. This means that the terms and conditions that were agreed on a previous fixture will be repeated with certain agreed exceptions. Thus it is important that both parties are clear about what this means.