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Contract experts tackle topical issues at Singapore DC meeting

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BIMCO’s Documentary Committee, chaired by Mr Karel Stes, gathered in Singapore for its spring meeting on 23 April. The Committee’s contract experts reviewed a number of new contracts and clauses dealing with a wide variety of topical subjects ranging from wind farms to solid bulk cargoes that can liquefy.

A new standard pooling agreement was adopted following two and half years of development work. Also adopted by the Committee were three new standard clauses covering EU advanced cargo declaration requirements under voyage charter parties; slow steaming under a voyage charter; and a clause addressing the very topical issue of solid bulk cargoes that liquefy.

In addition to the adoption of a new contract and three new clauses, the Committee also discussed a number of on-going projects as well as adding several new tasks to its busy work programme. There were two clauses considered by the Committee which were returned to their respective drafting groups for further work because consensus could not be reached on their adoption. The clauses deal with hull fouling and compliance with OFAC. As far as hull fouling goes, the Committee members felt that further consideration needed to be given to the duration of idling as a result of charterers’ orders following which the owners’ performance warranty would be suspended pending inspection and/or cleaning of the hull by the charterers. The proposed OFAC Clause provides a mutual obligation on owners and charterers to warrant that they are not on the OFAC SDN list and that the ship is not a Blocked Vessel. However, the reporting requirements proposed in the clause were felt by the Committee members to go beyond what is normally expected in a commercial agreement.

The Committee also reviewed a first draft of the WINDTIME time charter party being developed for the offshore wind farm industry. This new contract is based on SUPPLYTIME 2005 but with many updated provisions tailored to this sector of the industry. The Committee provided a lot of useful feedback and suggestions which will be relayed to the drafting team. It is hoped that a final draft of this contract will be ready to be adopted in November.

Virtual Arrival was another issue discussed at the meeting. It had originally been planned to draft a slow steaming clause for voyage charter parties that incorporated a virtual arrival provision. However, the drafting group quickly concluded that this would result in an overly complex clause and that the issue of slow steaming under a voyage charter and virtual arrival should be dealt with in two separate clauses. The Committee reviewed the draft virtual arrival clause and provided positive feedback to the drafting group to assist them in the completion of this task by later this year.

Following the publication of the highly successful GUARDCON contract and the adoption in Singapore of the standard Pooling Agreement and three new clauses, the Committee has freed up some resources to enable it to tackle new projects. The new projects will include a revision of the BIMCO War Risks Clauses; a review of the Piracy Clauses and the possible development of some recommended clauses to address concerns with possible liability issues related to the maritime Labour Convention 2006 in respect of crew provided by crew managers on a lump sum basis and charterers’ personnel employed on offshore vessels. BIMCO’s Standard Dispute Resolution Clause will also be revised to incorporate a new Asian arbitration venue – Singapore – as a fourth choice of arbitration venue under the clause (the others being New York, London and a free choice).

The next meeting of BIMCO’s Documentary Committee will be in November in BIMCO’s home city of Copenhagen.   Source: documentary@bimco.org

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