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Commencement of laytime 装卸时间的起算

3.243 In the first case, the owners tendered notice of readiness at 08 50 hours one Saturday morning in Lisbon. The arbitrator said it was necessary to consider local circumstances and other provisions in the charter relating to laytime. The evidence on the former showed that the port was open on Saturday mornings and all port authorities available, stevedoring was charged at premium rates, all shipping agents were closed, except for those attending vessels, and the majority of, if not all, importers/exporters were closed. Other provisions in the charter included the exclusion of Saturday afternoon and Sunday from laytime. More weight, said the arbitrator, had to be given to the evidence relating to business offices, rather than to the hours which the port authorities and stevedores had to work. Therefore, written notice of readiness could not be received until Monday morning as the receivers’ office was closed on Saturday.


3.244 The second case concerns a vessel which arrived at the Mersey Bar at 03 09 one Saturday. Notice of readiness was given by telex to the charterers’ agents at 09 55 and to the charterers themselves at 10 00. However, neither the charterers’ nor their agents’ offices were open. The charter contained two provisions relating to giving notice. The first allowed for notice to be given on Saturday mornings before 12 00 if the vessel had been entered at the Custom House. The second said simply that notice was to be given during ordinary office hours, whether the vessel had been entered at the Custom House or not. The issue between the parties was whether the two clauses were linked, so that the times specified in the first indicated what was meant by ordinary office hours, or whether they were completely separate, providing different criteria depending on whether the vessel had been entered at the Custom House or not. There was also a clause in the charter relating to the vessel giving notice when approaching Land’s End and the charterers thereupon giving orders for discharge.


3.245 On these facts, the arbitrators held that the notice given on Saturday morning was a good notice. It was clear from the clause relating to giving notice when the vessel had been entered at the Custom House and the clause dealing with giving notice off Land’s End that the charterers looked upon Saturday morning as being good for the tendering of notices.


3.246 In a slightly different set of circumstances, the tribunal held in London Arbitration 8/95 that a provision that referred to notice of readiness being given between business hours of 00 01 and 24 00, meant literally that and notice could validly be given at any time even on Saturday 26 December which was not an official holiday at the port in question.


3.247 Another example of what constitutes ‘‘ordinary office hours’’ is provided by London Arbitration 13/02, where the tribunal held that it was the office hours of port agents generally at the port of Lagos (the port in question) that were applicable, rather than the office hours of the agents for the ship in question, who opened half an hour earlier than most of the other agents.


3.248 In Pacific Carriers Corporation v. Tradax Export SA (The North King), the North King was chartered for a voyage from one safe US port, for which the charterers subsequently nominated Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as the load port. The notice clause of the charter required notification of the vessel’s readiness to be delivered at the office of the charterers or their agents ‘‘at or before 4 p.m. (or at or before 12 noon if on Saturday)’’. The owners’ agents therefore tendered notice of readiness at 09 00 on Saturday 1 November. However, that Saturday was All Saints’ Day and a public holiday and the charterers contended that the notice was only deemed to be effectively tendered on the following Monday.

3.248在Pacific Carriers Corporation v. Tradax Export SA (The North King) 案中,North King轮出租一个航次前往美国的一个安全港口,随后承租人指定路易斯安那州的Baton Rouge(在Mississippi River上游)为装货港。租船合同中的通知书条款要求船舶在‘下午4点或下午4点之前(或者星期六的中午12点或12点之前)’将准备就绪通知书递交到承租人或其代理人的办公室。因此,船东的代理在11月1日星期六的上午9点递交了准备就绪通知书。然而,那个星期六恰好是万圣节和公众假期,承租人辩称该通知书仅能看作是在接下来的星期一有效递交的。

3.249 The umpire in the arbitration proceedings and Mocatta J in the High Court both side-stepped the issue as to whether the notice provision allowed notification to be given on a public holiday, an excepted period, by finding that the parties had separately agreed that notice on behalf of the vessel should be accepted on the Saturday morning. However, the umpire also pointed out that no evidence had been adduced to the effect that it was unlawful by the laws of the State of Louisiana to carry on business on All Saints’ Day or any other public holiday and he found that it was not unlawful for the notice of readiness to be tendered or accepted on that day. It presumably follows from this that, apart from the notice clause in the charter, it would have been perfectly valid for notice to be given on a holiday or other excepted period.


3.250 On the meaning of the specific provision relating to notice in the charter, the umpire said he was inclined to think that by necessary implication from the express words of the clause, a valid notice of readiness could not ordinarily be given on a Sunday or a holiday or any other day which is not a business day. The judge contented himself with saying that if it was not for the question of the agreement between the parties, the decision would have turned upon interesting points in relation to the construction of the clauses of the charterparty.


3.251 Perhaps the leading case where the question of notices being tendered outside the hours stipulated in the charterparty was considered was The Petr Schmidt. The clause in question required notices to be tendered ‘‘within 06 00 and 17 00 local time’’.

3.251对于在租船合同中规定的时间之外递交准备就绪通知书的问题进行深入探讨,也许就是The Petr Schmidt这一著名的案例了。所争议的条款规定要求通知书是在‘当地时间0600-1700之间’递交。

3.252 After referring to The Mexico I, Longmore J continued:

Mr Hamblen’s submission requires as its foundation that the notices of readiness in the present case were invalid and a nullity in the sense used in the decided cases. I do not think that they were. In the present case the ship was ready when the notices of readiness were given. They were notices which stated the truth viz. that the vessel was ready to load or discharge as the case might be. The only thing wrong about the notices was the time that they were tendered, which was outside the contractual hours as specified in the contract. To say that such notices were invalid and must therefore be nullities begs the question. They were accurate but non-contractual in the sense that they were tendered outside the contractual hours. To my mind that does not make them invalid notices in the sense of being nullities; timing provisions have nothing to do with whether notices are nullities. It is only if a notice is untrue that it makes sense to say that it is invalid in the sense of being a nullity.

An ‘‘invalid’’ notice of readiness is a phrase of ambiguous meaning. It makes sense to say that an untruthful or inaccurate notice is invalid. It is not surprising that the courts have held that such a notice has no legal effect and is to be treated as a nullity. It may in a sense be correct to say that a notice given outside the contractual hours is invalid but only in the sense that it does not comply with the contract. It does not follow that the courts should hold that a premature notice of readiness is a nullity and of no effect. The fact that there are good reasons for holding an inaccurate notice to be of no effect (viz. the charterer cannot know when it will become accurate) does not of itself mean that there are similarly good reasons for holding an untimely notice to be of no effect. There is in my view no good reason why the notice should not be effective as at the time which the contract fixes for it to be tendered.

3.252在参考了The MexicoI 案后,Longmore法官继续说:



3.253 The charterers subsequently unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Appeal, where the principal judgment was give Lord Justice Evans, who held as his primary reason for dismissing the appeal that the notice was tendered at 06 00 when the office opened. Having quoted the passage cited above, Evans LJ then went on to say:

Mr Hamblen (for the Charterers) submitted to us that the Judge was wrong to introduce the distinction between invalidity for what may be called a substantive reason i.e. because the notice is incorrect in a material respect and a notice which although valid in itself is tendered in breach of some ‘‘time provision’’ as to when a valid notice may be tendered.

He later said:

I am inclined to agree with Mr Hamblen that a notice which is tendered outside the hours permitted by cl. 30 is non-contractual and cannot be relied upon as a ‘‘valid’’ notice, meaning effective to start the time clock running for loading or discharge as the case may be. If a notice was taken to the charterers’ offices at (say) 18 00 and then taken away, then I would not regard that as a tender which became effective on the following day. If Mr Justice Longmore intended to cover such a case when he said that ‘‘the only thing wrong about the notices was the time that they were tendered’’, yet such notices were valid at that time, then I would disagree with him, but I do not think that he did. Notices outside the permitted hours were non-contractual and therefore ‘‘wrong’’. I do not see how they can be relied upon as having contractual effect at the time of tender. Whether the defect is ‘‘cured’’ by the passage of time is a question of fact rather than law.

The answer to the submission in the present case therefore, depends on the facts that the notice was given in writing and by means which were equivalent to leaving it in the offices to be attended to at 06 00 on the following day. This is essentially the same reason as I have given for rejecting the first submission. Here, there was a tender at 06 00 whether or not there was previously a tender at the time when the telex or fax message was sent.

Peter Gibson LJ, having said that he entirely agreed with the reasons given by Evans LJ for dismissing the appeal, in answer to an argument from Mr Hamblen that because a breach of the time limits relating to presentation of notice of readiness could not give rise to a claim in damages, therefore the time limits must be complied with strictly, said:

That simply does not follow. For example, the failure to adhere to a rent review time table may be a breach of contract not compensatable in damages, but that does not make that timetable of the essence of the contract (United Scientific Holdings Ltd v. Burnley Borough Council [1978] AC 904). A notice given outside the period provided for contractually may be ‘‘uncontractual’’, but it does not follow that it is a nullity, unless the circumstances of the contract or the subject-matter make it essential that the notice should be given within that period.’’

Sir Christopher Slade, the third member of the court agreed with the previous two judgments and added:

Laytime under this charterparty was pressed to begin on the expiration of six hours after receipt of the notice of readiness. The commercial purpose of the second sentence of cl. 30, as I would infer, must have been to ensure that the charterers or their agents should not be saddled with the receipt of a notice of readiness, and the consequent commencement of laytime, between 17 00 hours and 06 00 hours, that is to say outside what might be regarded as office hours.

The primary conclusion reached by Lord Justice Evans namely that on the facts of the present case there was a ‘‘tender’’ at 06 00, is in my judgment entirely consistent not only with this commercial purpose but also with the wording of cl. 6 and 30, which I think should be read together. The wording of cl. 6 makes it clear that the time of the giving of the notice plus the receipt thereof are the relevant factors for the purpose of the clause.

On this basis, I do not regard the notices of readiness in the present case as ‘‘non-contractual’’ (i.e. as having been originally ‘‘tendered’’ outside the permitted hours). But even if they did not comply with the strict wording of cl. 30, I think that they still fall to be treated as valid notices for the reasons given by Lord Justice Evans and Lord Justice Peter Gibson.

I would therefore concur in dismissing this appeal and upholding the arbitrators’ award.

3.253 承租人随后上诉到上诉法院,也没有胜诉。由Evans大法官给出主要的判词,他判决道,作为驳回这一上诉的首要原因是通知书在0600递交时办公室已经开始工作了。在援引了上文引述的片段后,他继续说:





Peter Gibson大法官也说道,他完全认同Evans大法官驳回上诉时给出的理由,并回答了Hamblen先生提出的争议——即是违反递交准备就绪通知书有关的时间限制是不能够给予损失索赔,因此时间限制必须严格遵守,说:

这简直就是不能得出这样的结论。例如,未能遵守租金支付时间表去按时支付租金,可能是违约,但在损失上并不是可以赔偿的,因为(违约)没有导致时间表成为合同的根本基础(United Scientific Holdings Ltd v. Burnley Borough Council [1978] AC 904,该案未对支付租金违约方面做出规定)。在合同规定的时间之外递交通知书可能是‘违反合同的’,但这并不能得出它是一场空,除非根据合同的背景或合同标的得出结论说,通知书在给定的时间内递交是合同的根本性基础。

Christopher Slade爵士,该案中的第3名大法官也同意上述2名大法官的判词,并补充说:



在此基础上,我不认为本案中的准备就绪通知书是‘违反合同的’(即把初始递交的通知书当做是在允许时间之外‘(无效)递交的’)。然而,即使他们没有严格遵守第30条款的措辞,我认为他们仍然是被视为有效的通知书,已由Evans大法官和Peter Gibson大法官给出其原因。


3.254 It would seem therefore that if a written notice of readiness is given to the charterers or their agents outside office hours, where there is a provision requiring it to be given in office hours, then such notice will be deemed to have been tendered at the commencement of office hours on the next working day. The tribunal so found in London Arbitration 11/08.





魏船长自2000年开始,有16年海上船舶航运经验,先后在7条远洋货轮担任船长,凭借丰富的航运实践经验,魏船长非常熟悉船舶的运营操作,在船舶操纵、货物装载与管理等方面有着丰富的实践经验。 近年来致力海商法的翻译工作,包括“劳氏法律文库”推荐,Informa出版的Bills of Lading(提单)、Time Charter(期租合同)、Marine Letter of Indemnify(海运保函)等书籍,和他人合作翻译《船舶建造》。 专业著作:中英文版《船舶买卖》第六版、《装卸时间与滞期费》



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