Premature and invalid NOR
Contract of affreightment often expressly provides for compliance with some specific conditions for notice of readiness to be valid. It can be required, for example, that the vessel has to be entered in the customs’ house before notice was given or free pratique has to be obtained or that the notice to be given within stipulated time window. In such cases the commencement of laytime begins only when the event stipulated in the charter occurs, the giving of the requisite valid notice and its validity depends on the conditions stipulated in the charterparty for its giving being met.
Alternatively, the parties are free to contract out any specific or standard requirements which, if not met, would have made notice of readiness invalid. The purpose of such fine-tuning is to relocate between the parties liabilities for delays in port, but extensive litigation on this subject demonstrate all the numerous problems of achieving an unambiguous result.
As general rule all modern charterparty forms, no matter a port or a berth one, allow tender of notice of readiness once the vessel has arrived at the port. From this point there are several ways of allocation of risks for delay, three most common mentioned below:
In case of berth charter laytime starts to accrue if delay in getting into berth is caused by congestion, but NOR becomes valid only if retendered when alongside, ready for cargo operations and all additional requirements (if any) has been met;
In case of port charter vessel tenders valid NOR on arrival at the port (anchorage) but laytime is interrupted for any delays caused by weather or navigational reasons;
Special provisions in a berth charter may permit a notice sent from anchorage or waiting place to remain valid even if no any other notice was tendered when the vessel got into the berth.
Most dry-cargo forms adopt a variant of the first method, and most modern tanker forms the second.
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