Disputes on Charter Parties

A practical course dealing with law and practice relating to charter parties

Programme Topics:-

English Maritime Law and its Importance in Charter Party Disputes

A half-day introduction to English Maritime Law will be provided at the start of the course. It is designed for those who do not have an English law background but nevertheless need to understand the legal context in which many bill of lading disputes are resolved — namely in the English Courts. The two main subjects addressed are: 1) The Origins and Sources of English law — the concept of Precedence; and 2) Basic Principles of the Law of Contract. The Basic Principles of the Law of Tort with particular emphasis on the tort of negligence will be provided in the text of the papers but will not be the subject of a lecture.

Voyage, Time & Bareboat Charters + Contracts of Affreightment

An overview will be presented of the characteristics and differences between various types of charter party. Careful consideration will also be given to recent law cases which affect the way in which the industry conducts its negotiations prior to a fixture.

Bills of Lading under Voyage and Timecharter

The session will begin with a look at some general issues, including:

  • How can a charter party and a bill of lading sit side-by-side as the contract of carriage?
  • Who is the carrier under the bill of lading?
  • How can the charter party, or parts of it, be incorporated into the bill?
  • Which charter party and what clauses have been incorporated?

Also reviewed will be those areas in which bills of lading and charter parties come into conflict and other areas where the two documents relate more successfully.

Liens in Charter Parties/Bills of Lading

This session will include the rights of the shipowner to lien cargo, freight/sub-freight and hire/sub-hire and will include an examination of the practicalities of exercising the lien.

Choosing the Right Charter Party

Each charter party brings with it a separate set of obligations and rights, with some favouring owners and others the charterer. The relative strength of these two players in the negotiating tussle will determine on whose shoulders more of the burden will fall. Knowing which charters favour one party over the other – and more importantly, why – is therefore essential to achieving a successful negotiation, even if the freight rate may not be attractive. During this session, the lecturer will compare two commonly used charter parties: the NYPE 1946 and NYPE 1993. The important differences will be highlighted, and why a charterer or an owner would favour one over the other will be discussed.

Timecharter Performance Claims and Off-hire Consequences

One of the most commonly encountered disputes between owners and Charterers relates to the speed and consumption of the vessel whilst under time charter. It is this type of dispute that can very quickly led to the end of co-operation between owners and Charterers (particularly since owners often take personally criticism of the performance of their vessels. This lecture begins with the basic legal principles involved and then deals with certain practical claim handling aspects before finally looking at remedies other than a straightforward claim for damages.

The Defaulting Timecharterer — Late and Non-Payment of Hire

This session will deal with perhaps the most important problem faced by an owner when fixing his vessel on timecharter: the late or non-payment of the hire. The paper will cover what constitutes a late payment and the remedies available under the charterparty for which many different clauses have been brought into use. The owner will always have to take the commercial factors into account before either terminating the charter or embarking on long-term recovery proceedings against the charterer.

Illegitimacy — Consequences for Owners and Charterers

The law relating to the duration of a time charter and the legitimacy or otherwise of orders given under a time charter to perform the final voyage has been developing relatively quickly during the last few years. These issues are important since ultimately, the Courts have to decide whether it is owners or charterers who have to bear the risk if, through the fault of neither party, their estimate of the charter duration is undermined by circumstances over which they have no control. Therefore, any event that affects the duration of the period may have important repercussions for both parties, the consequences of which will be considered here.

Safe Ports and Safe Berths

Given the potential financial consequences of a vessel going into an “unsafe” area, it is most important for the parties to a contract to know on whom the responsibility for safety falls. This session will review the following main points relating to safety issues:

  • when is there a warranty as to safety
  • when do the charterer’s obligations regarding safety arise
  • what is the definition of safety
  • physical versus political safety
  • duration of the obligation to safety
  • owner’s rights and remedies in the case of an order to an unsafe port

Practical Laytime and Demurrage

Laytime remains one of the most disputed areas of Charter Party operation and solutions to laytime problems are usually practical in nature. The purpose of this session is to show how such problems arise and how compromise is usually the best way.

Solving Charter Party Disputes

A practical view is given in the solving and case handling of Charter Party disputes. Using an arbitration as a Case Study example to highlight the problems associated with charter parties and bills of lading, the lecturer will invite participants to resolve the dispute, taking alternately the position of the shipowner, then the charterer.

Problems of the Master

All too often we look at charter party disputes from the point of view of those who negotiate them. In the real world it is usually the Ship's Master who has to make the Charter Party work and it is beneficial for those based on shore to have the 'view of the sea' explained to them.

Each day will include time during which issues specific to individual participants will be addressed. The purpose is to serve as a form of tutorial, complementing the topics which are covered in a more formal way through the main lecture sessions.


The following form the core of the Faculty who have lectured on this course in recent years.

Course Leader:

David Martin-Clark, Consultant, Arbitrator and Mediator, previously Chairman and Chief Executive of Miller Holding Company and Chairman and Director of its subsidiaries in the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the US. The Thomas Miller Group is best known for its management of mutual insurance associations in the shipping and transport industry, such as the UK Pand I Club, the UK Defence Club and the TT (Through Transport) Club.  David also founded and is the Editor of DMC's CaseNotes web site, a valuable reference source of recent law cases with significant relevance to maritime law. (www.onlinedmc.co.uk)

  • Michael Bundock, Barrister and Associate, Shipping Litigation Department, Stephenson Harwood
  • Joanne Champkins, Professional Support Lawyer, Stephenson Harwood
  • Rebecca Crookenden, Associate, Stephenson Harwood
  • Michael Davar, Associate Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP
  • Marcus Dodds, Partner, Master Mariner, Reed Smith
  • John M Doviak, Director, Cambridge Academy of Transport
  • Graham Harris, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP
  • David Morriss, Partner, Holman Fenwick Willan LLP
  • Emma Nowell, Senior Associate, Stephenson Harwood

Course information

16-18 October 2024
Venue to be confirmed

Course fee

The cost of the three days is £2,400 per person, fully inclusive of UK Value Added Tax, tuition, refreshments, and lunch each day. Accommodation is NOT included but is available at the venue hotel at a discounted rate to our delegates.

Programme and Booking Form

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For a Booking Form,  click here.