What are Lay Days and Demurrage?

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The time allowed to the charterer for carrying out either or both the opera­tions of loading or unloading is reckoned by days, called lying days, or simply lay days, which, it is usually agreed, begin to count 24 hours after captain's notice to charterer of being ready to take in or to deliver cargo.

Lay days are reckoned either by running days or working days, and it is very important to know the difference. Running days are consecutive days, that is, days running from one date to another without any break or exception, while working days are such as are usually devoted to work, according to the cus­tom of the place, or during which it is possible for labourers to work.

Sometimes the additional clauses -weather permitting, Sundays excepted, or holidays excepted, are inserted, as a restriction on running days.

A number of days, over and above the lay days, is also fixed in most charters, during which the vessel is bound to remain at charterer's disposal for loading or unloading purposes, against payment of an indem­nity to the owner, at a fixed rate per ton and per day; sometimes, and particularly for steamers, even per hour. Such an indemnity is known as demurr­age.

Should a vessel be detained in port still beyond the demurrage days agreed upon in the charter party; extra demurrage days will then begin to count, for which the charterer has to pay a higher indemnity, to be deter­mined either by agreement or by the Court. In some charters no limit is given for demurrage.

Sometimes no lay days are fixed, but the charterer is bound to ship or discharge a certain number of tons a day, or demurrage is incurred, which turns out to te the same; sometimes also the contract merely refers to the custom of the port whereat the operation is to be carried out.

The condition of paying distotch money to the char­terer in the case of his loading or unloading the vessel before lay days are over, is not commonly found in charier parties, such an allowance being exceptionally granted by the owner only in cases when the strictest economy of time is desired.

Dispatch money, when granted, is fixed in the char­ter at so much for each day saved.

Loading and Unloading.-

As to the mode of load­ing and unloading, the provisions of the charter vary with the nature of the goods to be shipped. Bulk cargoes, for instance, such as grain, coal, ore, etc., cannot be dealt with as timber or marble, for which broken stowage and other conditions must be added, nor do the accommodations and mechanical means for loading and unloading ships in the various ports admit of a uniformity of conditions.

Special arrangements excepted, it is, however, usually stated in charters that the goods are to be delivered to ship's officers by charterer's agent, either along shifts side, on deck, or under ship's tackle; where the owner's responsibility commences, and stowed in the hold by stevedores or trimmers, at the ship owner's expense, the captain signing bills of lading for the quantity shipped, whether ascertained by him or not.

The usual condition for the unloading is that goods are to be taken by the receiver at port of destination either from under ship's tackle, along ship's side, or ac­cording to the custom of the place.

The weighing, counting, or measuring required for the computation of freight usually takes place on board at the moment of discharge, but a provision to that effect seldom appears in the charter.


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