BIMCO has recently published its Laytime Definitions for Charter Parties 2013. This sets out the meaning and commentary of certain specialist terms such as “reachable on arrival”, “always accessible” and “weather working day”.

BIMCO states that the definitions have been developed “to provide practitioners with a set of meanings of commonly-used words and phrases. The objective is to help reduce disputes about party intentions in a market where fixtures are often concluded on the basis of a recap message and listed amendments, without the exchange or return of draft contracts”.

The meanings of common laytime and demurrage terms have been debated at length in both arbitration and court proceedings. A common basis for disputes is a discrepancy in the parties’ understanding of what a particular term or phrase actually means. The production of this list of definitions, which can be incorporated into a charter if the parties wish do to so, may well reduce future disputes by introducing some certainty and commonality of intent in that regard.

It should be remembered, however, that laytime and demurrage disputes are often turn on the facts of a particular situation. Parties may well continue to argue over the application of these terms and definitions to their own situation.

The full definitions are available for download on the BIMCO website.