Ship chartering in Cameroon is governed by the Marine Marchande Code 2012 of the CEMAC Region and other member state legislation. Ship Chartering is the hiring of a vessel and crew for the voyage between a port of loading and a discharge port. This is in other words referred to as a Charter Party contract or freight. The vessel is hired either for the carriage of passengers, cargo or a yacht for pleasure purposes.
The code on ship chartering in the CEMAC Region provides that the conditions and effect of the charter contract are to be defined by the charter parties (the shipowner and the charterer), or in default will be subject to terms as per the law of each member state.
According to the code, ship chartering is materialized by a charter party contract which states the duties/obligations of the freight forwarder and the charterer.
A charter party contract is used by shippers of large quantities of cargo and by people who intend to trade as carriers in their own right without purchasing a ship, either by sub-chartering or by carrying merchant’s cargo for payment of freight.
A charter party is also a contract of carriage between a shipowner and charterer.
TYPES OF SHIP CHARTERING
The CEMAC code governing activities in Cameroon have made provision for three types of ship chartering contracts to wit;
- Voyage/Travel Charter,
- Time Charter, and
- Demise or Bareboat Charter.
Each of these Ship Chartering contracts has different elements and obligations as regards the Shipowner and the charterer.
SHIPOWNERS DUTY UNDER A SHIP CHARTERING IN CAMEROON
- Provide a seaworthy ship which complies with the charter party description,
- Properly and carefully load, handle, stow, carry, keep. Care for, discharge and deliver the cargo,
- Comply with charterer’s legitimate employment instructions, and
- Prosecute voyages with reasonable dispatch.
CHARTERER’S DUTY UNDER SHIP CHARTERING IN CAMEROON
The duties in a charter party contract depend on the type of ship chartering contract agreed by the shipowner and the charterer.
In a Voyage/Travel Charter contract, the charterer has as duty to;
- Provide the agreed cargo alongside the ship and pay extra for the cargo handling expenses,
- Pay the stipulated amount of freight.
In a Time Charter contract, the Charterer has as duty to;
- Drive the ship within geographical frames defined by the shipowner in the charter contract, always consulting the insurance companies that support it,
- Observe the berth clause. It is an implied duty.
- Ensure the maritime transport is legal and the freight is legitimate.
- Cover the cost of loading, stowage, unloading of the cargo under the oversight and responsibility of the captain.
- Deliver the ship in the same good condition at a specific place and predetermined time.
In a Demise/Bareboat Charter contract, the charterer has a duty to;
CLOSING A CHARTER PARTY
Parties to a ship chartering contract should endeavor to fulfill all the requirements needed and establish the respective terms in view to successfully close a charter party contract. This kind of contract usually contains express terms of nature to define the responsibilities of both the Shipowner and the Charterer. These express terms are also determinant on the type of charter especially as the terms of a voyage charter contract, a time charter contract, and a demise charter contract will be different. The key clauses to consider in closing a charter party include;
- The Bunker Clause
- The Ship Clause
- The Ice Clause
- The Lighterage Clause
- The Negligence Clause
- The Ready Berth Clause.
The clauses are very important in determining the obligations and liability of either party to a Charter Party contract.