This chapter addresses clause 20 of Supplytime 2017, which has two sub-clauses.

Sub-clause (a) deals with sub-chartering. Under time-charters of ordinary cargo vessels there are normally no restrictions on sub-chartering, but with offshore vessels which are not simply performing supply runs, sub-chartering will raise different issues. The position under Supplytime is that charterers may have the vessel work for another party as charterers’ client, but if it is wished to enable the other party to give instructions (formally, requests for services) directly to the vessel then this will require a sub-charter or “loan” for which the owners’ consent is required (but consent is not to be unreasonably withheld).

In Supplytime 2005 and Supplytime 2017 there is also a rather puzzling (and very owner-friendly) provision by which owners are entitled to demand extra hire (in an amount to be agreed at the time the original charter is fixed) simply because the vessel is sub-chartered (and presumably if no amount was agreed when the original charter was fixed, the owners can refuse to allow any sub-charter). The puzzle is explained as a matter of the history of the form by looking back to Supplytime 89, where there were two provisions, one allowing charterers to lend the vessel out to perform anchor-handling for other operators (for which a fixed amount was to be agreed when the original charter was fixed) and another providing for sub-chartering more generally, for which extra hire was to be agreed at the time when owners were asked to consent to the sub-charter “having regard to the nature and period of the sub-charter”. The chapter also suggests wording to eliminate the owner-friendliness of the current version.

Sub-clause (b) may have been intended to present the appearance that Supplytime is even-handed in the restrictions it imposes on charterers and on owner. It deals with delegation by owners of the performance of their obligations.

However, the Supplytime provision is chiefly remarkable for what the owners are left able to do without requiring the charterers’ consent — there appear to be no restrictions on changes in control of the company which enters into the charterparty as “Owners”, on appointing or changing technical managers for the vessel, on assigning the right to receive the hire due under the charterparty, or on mortgaging the vessel, all of which may threaten the charterers’ position or have the effect that as a matter of commercial reality the vessel is now operated by a different organisation from the one which the charterers accepted at the time the charterparty was agreed.

In the hope of assisting those who have to deal with disputes arising under charterers’ forms which require charterers’ consent “not to be unreasonably withheld” to changes in control or management or to assignments of hire or mortgages, brief (and very general) suggestions are made about when it would be reasonable for charterers to refuse consent to these.

Chapter 20

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