Working Days

In cases of ‘weather working days’, laytime does not count during period of bad weather that interrupt loading or discharging, nor (and this is the important factor) does laytime count when bad weather occurs during a working day even if, had the weather been fine, no attempt would have been made to work. ‘Weather working day’ describes a type of working day. It does not matter whether the vessel was actually working or not. It follows, therefore, that even if a ship is not actually on the loading (or discharging) berth, for example because it is occupied by another ship, if time has started to run and bad weather occurs during a working day, that time will not count against charterers as laytime. Take note of the word ‘working’ day (we will be studying this a little more deeply later in the lesson). A working day not only refers to a day when work normally takes place, it is also that part of the day when work is normally done in the port in question. If, therefore, the word ‘working’ is not qualified in any way, the bad weather would have to occur during the port working part of the day for it to be deducted from the laytime. Conversely, where the charterparty reads ‘working day of 24 consecutive hours’ (which is now more normal), then bad weather occurring at any time (once laytime had started to run) would be deductible even if the charterer had no intention of working during such a period. In cases of ‘days, weather permitting’ it was understood until 1982 that only working time actually interrupted by bad weather would fail to count as laytime. All this, however, was before the case of the ‘VORRAS’ in that year. That vessel was a tanker and the judges of the English Court of Appeal had to determine the meaning of the term ’72 running hours, weather permitting, Sundays and holidays included…’, where the vessel was kept from a loading berth for some days owing to bad weather. They held that bad weather at the time was such as to prevent the loading of a vessel of the ‘VORRAS’ type and as such, laytime should not count. In other words, that decision on a tanker has effectively eroded the long-held and sacred distinction in the dry-cargo market between ‘weather working’ and ‘weather permitting’.