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Time Charter

Voyage Charters

Slot Charter
Last updated: 06-Jul-2015

In Metvale Ltd v Monsanto International Sarl & Ors [2008] EWHC 3002 (Admlty), per Teare J. :

10. It appears from Legal Issues Relating to Time Charterparties, Chapter 14 on Containerisation, slot charters and the law by Christopher Hancock QC, that the concept of a slot charter was developed in the late 1960s. They are now very common. HPL, for example, has slot charter agreements with most of the world’s largest container ship operators and owners.

11. BIMCO (the Baltic and International Maritime Council) has described a slot charter in these terms: "The feature of a slot charterpary as a contract of carriage is unique in the sense that, whereas the slot charterparty is neither a time charterparty not a voyage charterparty, it bears some similarity to both types of contract. As such, a slot charterparty can be said to be a hybrid type of contract. It may be mentioned that, as distinct from a time charterparty when the entire vessel is being chartered, the slot charterers are only hiring space on a vessel and they are therefore not acting as operators as under a time charterparty and usually have no control over the operation of the vessel."

14. Thus it appears that HPL’s and Stinnes’ slot charter agreements with MSC have some features in common with a time charter. They last for a period of time and hire is paid for the use of cargo carrying capacity. It is not however comparable to a time charter in that the charterer does not direct the vessel where to go. Clause 5.1 of the Implementing Agreement provides that the itinerary of each voyage shall be as mutually agreed. In this respect it is more akin to a voyage charter or consecutive voyage charter.

17. Indeed, the ordinary meaning of the word charterer is apt to include any type of charterer, whether demise, time or voyage charterer. There is no reason why it should not also include a slot charterer. There is good reason for a slot charterer being within the definition. Were slot charterers not within the definition, slot chartering, which is an established and, to judge from its growth, an efficient way of organising the carriage of goods, would or might fall into disuse. A slot charterer’s inability to limit liability would not encourage the provision of international trade by way of sea carriage, which was the object and purpose of the convention.

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