Voyage Charterparty Contract

Voyage charterparty is a contract between the owner of a vessel and a charterer who requires the services of the vessel. The purpose of the voyage charterparty is to obtain the services of a ship and her crew to carry a cargo of goods from one port to another for the charterer. For providing the vessel to the charterer the owner in turn is paid freight and, on occasion, demurrage. Freight is the money earned by the owner for providing the vessel and carrying the charterer’s cargo. Freight is often determined by the cargo quantity loaded and will be negotiated on the basis of the owner’s estimate of the time to be taken for the voyage. Clearly, the owner cannot estimate the likely time the vessel will spend in port loading and discharging cargo and therefore a fixed period of time, called laytime, is allowed for these operations and provision made for the payment of liquidated damages, that is demurrage, if the period of laytime is exceeded. As a matter of English law, the voyage charterparty does not need to take any particular form. Indeed, the charterparty does not need to be written and can be entirely oral. However, contracts which are made orally are difficult to enforce given the potential uncertainty over the contractual terms and considerable degree for misinterpretation of those terms and the extent of the agreement. Commonly, therefore, voyage charterparties take the form of a written contract.A number of ‘standard form’ voyage charterparties have been developed and are in common use. In the dry trades charterparties such as the Gencon 1976.