UK: Commencement of laytime: common pitfalls and errors

Determining when laytime commences is essential for both owners and charterers. Both need to be aware when laytime starts so that any demurrage claim can be accurately evaluated. It is therefore important that both owners and charterers are able to effectively analyse the terms of the charterparty which deal with the conditions which need to be satisfied before the laytime clock starts running.

In this article, we will review the main conditions that are generally required to be satisfied and indicate some of the common pitfalls and errors which can arise. As the first article in this series discusses, there can be a number of terms which will deal with laytime and demurrage issues throughout the entirety of the charterparty. The importance of carefully reviewing the charterparty when a laytime and demurrage issue arises cannot be overstated.

In general there are three main conditions which need to be met under most charterparties before laytime can commence. These concern the arrival and readiness of the vessel and the tender of the Notice of Readiness ("NOR"). We will consider these in turn.


Subject to the express terms of the charterparty, once the vessel has arrived at the agreed destination, it will be an 'arrived ship' for the purposes of calculating when the laytime should start to run. The agreed destination will vary depending on whether the charterparty is a port or a berth charterparty and whether there are additional clauses such as the WIPON ("Whether in Port or Not") or WIBON ("Whether in Berth or Not") amendments which alter the physical place that the vessel needs to reach.

Some tanker charterparties, particularly clause 9 of the ASBATANKVOY form of Charter, will contain an additional promise from the Charterers that the place nominated will be "reachable on arrival". While breach of that promise will not alter the commencement of laytime, it may provide Owners with a claim for detention for any delay to the vessel prior to it reaching the arrival destination.

For commercial reasons it is often in owners' interests to get the laytime clock started as early as possible after reaching destination. Once laytime is running the charterers are under pressure to get the vessel loaded or discharged within the laytime or face a demurrage claim.

In practice, issues can arise where at a port charterparty destination there is no berth available immediately for the vessel. In such cases, the Master may consider the end of sea passage as denoting arrival but in fact the particular configuration or practice of the port may mean that this is incorrect. In 'The Johanna Oldendorff' the House of Lords held that in such cases a ship can only be said to have arrived when it is at the 'immediate and effective disposition of the charterer'. As we discuss below, in relation to the NOR, the issue is an important one as a premature statement concerning arrival can invalidate the NOR and postpone the time at which laytime can commence.


The second requirement for the commencement of laytime is that the vessel must be ready to load or discharge the cargo when the agreed destination is reached and the notice of readiness is given.

Readiness can be defined as the vessel being available for use by the charterers and covers the readiness of the holds, equipment and legal documents.

  1. readiness of the holds – a vessel's holds must be clean and dry and without smell and in every way fitted to carry the cargo loaded. If not, then the vessel will not be ready to receive the cargo and laytime will not commence until such time as it is ready.
  2. readiness of the equipment – any equipment which is relevant to loading or discharging must be ready e.g. cranes, hatches, pumps etc. Although it is sufficient that the relevant equipment can be ready when actually required.
  3. Documentary readiness – all necessary papers must be in order so that the vessel can proceed immediately to the loading/discharging place and start work. Before a vessel can start work there are a number of documentary procedures which are owners responsibility including customs clearance, crew clearance and checks on stability. Different ports will often apply different regulations.

As a rule of thumb (and subject to the terms of the particular charterparty) customs clearance and health clearance for the crew will not generally be needed to be granted before this requirement is satisfied, provided that it is a "mere formality" and the Master has no reason to suspect that either will not be given by the port authorities.

A number of standard form tanker charterparties will, however, expressly provide that laytime will not commence unless customs and/or health clearances are obtained within 6 hours of the giving of the NOR. Such a clause will direct that the Master must take an additional step (such as note protest) before laytime can commence. If the Master is unaware of such a requirement and fails to carry out the terms of the charter then there could be a dramatic reduction in any eventual demurrage claim.

Notice of Readiness

A Notice of Readiness ("NOR") is a statement made by the ship to the charterers or their agents that it has arrived at the agreed destination and is ready to load/discharge the cargo.

Charterparties almost always contain express provisions concerning the NOR, which will in general provide for the NOR to be tendered in writing at each load and discharge port to the charterers or their nominated agents.

If the NOR is tendered but the Vessel is either not arrived or not ready (or in some instances both) then the notice will be invalid. The difficulty here arises because the final trigger for the commencement of laytime in most charterparties is the tender of a valid notice of readiness. Without this, arguably laytime may not commence until the vessel begins to perform cargo operations. This could result in a considerable amount of waiting time being at the owners risk rather than at the charterers.

If there is any doubt about the validity of the first NOR, it is sensible for a Master to serve multiple NOR's without prejudice to the validity of the first NOR.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.