​Separate meanings have been given to the different formulations of phrases such as “Weather Working” day, new definitions included covering “Always Accessible” and “Whether in Port or Not” while a number of other provisions have been updated or clarified.

The move is a significant one as it reinstates the original 1980 concept of definitions and reflects developments in case law and changes in commercial practice.

The definitions were last updated as the Voyage Charter Party Laytime Interpretation Rules (Voylayrules) in 1993.

Copies of the Laytime Definitions of Charter Parties 2013 together with explanatory notes are freely available from the chartering section of www.bimco.org.

Chairman of the Working Group, Jean-Pierre Laffaye (BIMCO) said:

“These provisions bring much needed clarity to the shipping markets and iron out a good deal of uncertainty. In a tough market, the amount of time a vessel spends unloading or loading cargo is under great scrutiny and it is therefore vital that imprecise laytime definitions and subtleties of interpretation do not provide grounds for expensive legal disputes when an interpretation is tested in the courts.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by Mrs Marygrace Collins (FONASBA) and Baltic Exchange director Colm Nolan. On behalf of CMI, Stig Gregersen commented that the new Definitions represented an important step forward in helping to remove some of the legal uncertainty associated with this area of the law.

The Baltic Exchange will be incorporating the new definitions into its code of conduct, the Baltic Code and definitions are now available for incorporation into charter parties or used as an agreed reference during dispute resolution. They can also be used as an educational resource.