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The Welsh Coal Charter was issued by the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom, London, for the first time in 1896; later on, the form was adopted by the Documentary Committee of BIMCO. As is well known, this charter has been used for shipments of coal from Welsh ports ever since issued.
The Welsh Coal Charter was taken as a basis when in 1920 a new charter form for coal shipments from the U.S.A. was considered by American shippers/charterers of coal. The first edition appeared later in 1920, adapted to conditions applicable at American coal loading ports. It became known as the "Americanized Welsh Coal Charter".
Over the years, the charter has been amended in line with decisions arrived at by arbitration in the U.S.A., or otherwise because of disputes which had arisen between owners and charterers. Before World War II, it would appear that three shipbrokers in New York were known as specialising in and dominating chartering of American coal.
After World War II, several other shipbrokers in New York came into the business and started coal chartering. It resulted in new editions of the Americanized Welsh Coal Charter being printed privately. In 1952, there existed no less than four such private forms, i.e., the 1946, 1947, 1949 and 1952 editions. Some charterers and shipbrokers used one and others another.
Shipowners who were interested in carrying coal cargoes from the U.S.A. complained that the position was rather untenable because when accepting "usual terms" and assuming this meant the 1946 edition, they might get the charter party written out on either of the four forms. It was also confusing that they were all passed off in freight circulars, cables and telexes as the "Americanized Welsh Coal Charter".
The position was improved when in August 1953 the Association of Ship Brokers & Agents in New York issued their form with the heading:
Americanized Welsh Coal Charter
Association of Ship Brokers & Agents
New York - 1953
It was based on the 1952 edition but contained some amendments which brought it into line with the private form still reported used by one of the chartering agents established in the trade before 1939.
As is known, the Americanized Welsh Coal Charter (hereinafter referred to as the AMWELSH) is widely used for shipment of coals from U.S. ports to all destinations. Nowadays it is also commonly used for shipments of petroleum coke from U.S. Gulf and U.S. West Coast ports to various destinations.
Although the 1953 version represented some, albeit modest, improvement, still, litigation and arbitration over interpretation continued to arise because of the archaic wording, the serious shortcomings and uncertainties still inherent to the form.
In particular, but not restricted to, the notorious Clause 3 (now Clause 4 in the subsequent 1979 revision referred to below) continued to be a constant dispute-breeder.
In an attempt to curb this problem and also as a part of the continuing programme of revision of American charter party forms initiated by ASBA in the beginning of the 1970s, a revision of the AMWELSH was undertaken by ASBA in 1979, resulting in a revised version of the charter marked "Amended 1979". In connection with this revision, it was decided that there should be no attempt to produce a new form but that the revision should, in principle, be limited to those changes which had already been recognised by the trade and were being incorporated in current fixtures.
As a result, no attempts were made to change the structure of the charter, which continued to appear in its traditional form, with its archaic language and still with no clause headings.
Although the AMWELSH 1979 did represent some improvements, still, it had little impact on the number of disputes on interpretation and numerous cases of litigation and arbitration continued to be reported with Clause 4 (Clause 3 in the 1953 version) continuing to be a constant source of dispute.
Against this background, and in pursuance of ASBA's continuing policy of revision of various American charterparty forms, it was decided by the Chartering and Documentary Committee of ASBA in 1992, in co-operation with The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the Federation of National Associations of Ship Brokers and Agents (FONASBA) to undertake a general revision of the AMWELSH 1979, taking into account changes in market practices and ship's types which had taken place since the 1979 revision and, thereby, hoping to produce a workable form which would be endorsed in the market place.
For this purpose, a Joint Working Group consisting of representatives from ASBA, BIMCO and FONASBA has since worked closely together. Throughout the revision work, great efforts have been made to revise the charter in such a manner so as to produce a form which allocates the commercial risks between owners and charterers in a fair and equitable manner; to remedy shortcomings where they exist; to remove uncertainties; where clauses were missing to incorporate such clauses and, above all, to clarify and modernise the text by use of apt words and recognised trade terminology and to modernise as well the structure of the charter by re-arranging the sequence of clauses in a more logical order and to provide as well clause headings to facilitate reading.
Moreover, as a part of this exercise, to integrate in the basic form of the charter such clauses, covering special matters, which are already commonly added in Riders, with a view to reduce the scope of disputes so often arising from badly drafted rider clauses and, as said earlier, to introduce such changes or new provisions as deemed necessary to conform to modern custom and modern ship technology.
As a result, the charter has been completely re-cast and streamlined so as to facilitate the use in practice by the many parties using the AMWELSH in their daily business.
The revision work was completed, resulting in the Americanized Welsh Coal Charter, Code Name: AMWELSH 93 marked "Revised 1993".
The AMWELSH 93 has been officially approved by the Board of Governors of ASBA and has been adopted by the Documentary Committee of BIMCO as a "Recommended" Form.
Similarly, the charter has been adopted by the Chartering and Documentary Committee of FONASBA.
As a general observation, it is extremely important that in all items in the charter marked with an asterisk (*), the inappropriate alternative be deleted.
The copyright belongs to the Association of Ships Agents and Brokers (U.S.A.) Inc., (ASBA).
This follows closely the pattern of the AMWELSH 1979 with spaces provided for inserting the relevant details of the vessel's characteristics, etc.
In line with modern charterparties, the word "dock" used in the AMWELSH 1979 (Line 10) has been replaced by the word "berth"; similarly, the archaic provisions reading "alongside any wharf and/or vessel and/or craft" (Line 14) have been deleted.
Rather than determining arbitrarily what should be the margin of quantity more or less in the Owners' option, it has been left to the parties to agree and fill in the relevant figures together with all such other details to be inserted in the blank spaces provided for in this clause.
Similarly as with the AMWELSH 1979, it is left to the parties to agree on the various details regarding freight payment, currency, time and place for payment, etc. and ample space has been provided for the purpose.
This clause also follows the pattern of Clause 3 in the AMWELSH 1979, but provisions concerning charterers' declaration of first or sole loading port have been added to cover such cases when the actual loading port may not have been pre-determined and inserted in the charter but, instead, loading port(s) is or are to be selected and declared by charterers out of a fixed range of ports.
For many mining products, including coal, it applies that cargoes often travel a long distance from place of origin or production site to port of shipment; for that reason, advance notice of the date of the vessel's expected readiness to load (or any subsequent alteration thereof) is of great importance to shippers/charterers and care should be taken when filling-in the relevant details in the empty space provided for and in adhering strictly to the provisions of this clause.
No such clause was found in the AMWELSH 1979 but a clause has now been included to cater for the situation when the actual discharging port may not have been named and inserted in the charter and, instead, it has been left to the charterers to nominate a discharging port or ports out of a fixed range of ports.
When a definite discharging port has been agreed and stated in Clause 1, as may often be the case, the provisions of Clause 4 are, of course, of no relevance.
These important details, "hidden away" in Clause 15 of the old AMWELSH 1979, have been moved forward to a more predominant place in the charter where they rightfully belong.
The principle normally observed in voyage charter parties that the charterers shall have the right to cancel if the vessel is not ready for loading latest on the cancelling date agreed, is fully maintained in the first paragraph of Clause 5.
The second paragraph is a so-called Interpellation Clause.
It is an attempt to avoid the sometimes harsh result to an owner who cannot make a cancelling date but, nevertheless, is legally obliged to tender his vessel, perhaps at a remote port, after having performed a long ballast voyage, only to be cancelled and find himself with a spot prompt vessel.
With today's high capital investment in new vessels and high daily running costs, this is not considered fair and equitable when, for bona fide reasons, the vessel is delayed because of events beyond owners' control.
Within certain time limits, the clause requires the charterer either to cancel in advance or extend the cancelling date in circumstances when the vessel cannot make her cancelling date.
Over the last 10-15 years it has become common practice to include such interpellation provisions in modern charterparties for both voyage and time chartering.
It is in respect of Clause 4 in the AMWELSH 1979 (Clause 3 in the 1953 version of the Charter) that the biggest changes have been introduced because of its archaic language; because of its unfortunate mixture of all sorts of items such as laytime for loading, notice of readiness, laytime counting, strike provisions applying to loading port, cancellation provisions in case of strike provided that no cargo has been loaded on board; extension of laytime in case of partial stoppage caused by strike events as well as demurrage and despatch money provisions.
It is no surprise that the old Clause 4 in the AMWELSH 1979 was constantly giving rise to disputes and the subject of numerous litigations and arbitrations.
Great efforts have been made to remove all these uncertainties and abnormalities by a complete revision and re-draft of the whole of former Clause 4 and to specify, instead, the various items in self-contained clauses (Clause 6 to Clause 10, both inclusive) for the purpose of clarity and simplification and thereby diminishing the scope of disputes so inherent to Clause 4 in the AMWELSH 1979.
Clause 6 now gives clear rules as to notice of readiness, commencement of laytime and also includes suitable waiting for berth provisions as found in most modern voyage charterparties in order to take care of the situation when a berth is not available on vessel's arrival because of congestion.
Provisions have also been included to deal with laytime counting when shifting from waiting place to berth and resulting shifting expenses.
In addition, suitable provisions have been added dealing with laytime counting etc. at second or subsequent ports of loading/discharging, if two or more loading/discharging ports have been agreed.
Whilst retaining in sub-clause (a) the basic principle of the AMWELSH 1979 with separate provisions for rates of loading and discharging, it has been recognised that many of today's coal charters are fixed on the basis of a total number of days for loading and discharging combined.
Consequently, optional provisions to cover fixtures based on "days purposes" have been included in sub-clause (b).
In line with market practice, optional SHEX (Sundays and Holidays Excepted)/SHINC (Sundays and Holidays Included) provisions have been introduced.
The parties shall ensure that the inappropriate alternative in sub-clauses (a) and (b) of Clause 7 be deleted.
The provisions in sub-clause (c) spell out how time used in loading and discharging during excepted periods, if any, shall be treated.
When separate laytime for loading and discharging is agreed, sub-clause (d) spells out that laytime shall be non-reversible.
The general objective of the provisions in the first paragraph of this clause is to relate the owners' responsibilities and immunities to the Hague/Hague-Visby Rules, as applicable.
The second paragraph is a mutual exceptions clause for the protection of both owners and charterers enumerating the usual "force majeure" type situations.
It replaces the antiquated text in Clause 8 of the AMWELSH 1979 which, in addition to the usual "force majeure" situations, also contains some other rather strange provisions such as exoneration of responsibility for "negligence, default or error in judgment of trimmers or stevedores employed in loading or discharging the cargo" as well as provisions which give the vessel liberty to deviate for various purposes, i.e. items which really do not belong to a mutual exceptions clause.
The provisions dealing with strikes, etc. found in Clause 4 of the AMWELSH 1979 (Clause 3 in the 1953 edition) also contained provisions concerning termination of the charter in certain circumstances such as in the event of stoppage or stoppages arising from any of the causes enumerated in the clause which, as mentioned earlier, is most confusing and, therefore, a constant source of dispute.
As is known, the strike provisions in Clause 4 of the AMWELSH 1979 were applicable to loading only, whereas strike provisions pertaining to the discharging port were to be found elsewhere in the charter, viz., in Clause 9 of the AMWELSH 1979.
Great efforts have been made to remove all the uncertainties and problems inherent to Clause 4 in the AMWELSH 1979 and to provide a modern strike clause which in clear and unequivocal terms allocates the risks between the parties in a fair and equitable manner and which, therefore, undoubtedly, will greatly assist in reducing the scope of disputes.
This is self-explanatory.
In recognition of the fact that nowadays most bulk cargoes are fixed on f.i.o. terms, this clause provides for the cargo to be loaded, dumped, spout-trimmed and discharged free of risk and expense to the vessel.
To avoid irritating disputes as to who shall pay overtime, if incurred, care has been taken to draw up suitable provisions in sub-clause (a) outlining who is to pay overtime under all foreseeable circumstances and on an equitable basis.
Sub-clause (b) gives rules as to time counting in various circumstances when overtime work is performed.
This is similar to Clause 12 in the AMWELSH 1979 but the text has been streamlined to match modern clauses of this kind and the fact that nowadays most vessels are fitted with mechanical hatch covers.
The AMWELSH 1979 is silent on this point; suitable provisions have, therefore, been provided for in Clause 14 reflecting the current practice of including such provisions in modern charterparties.
This is new and has been included to rectify the shortcomings of the AMWELSH 1979 which was silent on this point.
For reasons of clarity, this clause has been amplified, but is otherwise in keeping with the substance of the corresponding clause in the AMWELSH 1979 (Clause 13).
The text is the same as found in Clause 16 of the AMWELSH 1979, leaving it to the parties to negotiate and agree who shall appoint the agents.
Clause 18 of the AMWELSH 1979 contained similar provisions which have now been elaborated on in the AMWELSH 93 to the effect that the parties must, in each particular case, agree on the maximum amount of extra insurance on cargo which the owners may be called upon to pay.
The charterers have the option of deducting the amount from the freight but must furnish evidence of the extra insurance paid.
The provisions in sub-clause (a) are similar to those contained in Clause 20 of the AMWELSH 1979, whereas the stipulations in sub-clause (b) are new and have been made optional; if not applicable, (b) should be deleted.
As compared with the AMWELSH 1979 in which, strangely enough, provisions dealing with vessel's liberty to deviate were to be found in Clause 8 which was a general exceptions clause, such provisions are now, and more appropriately, included in a self-standing clause in the AMWELSH 93.
The shortcomings and uncertainties attached to the lien/cesser provisions in Clause 26 of the AMWELSH 1979 have been remedied by re-writing and clarifying the text in the manner now appearing in Clause 21 of the AMWELSH 93.
This is identical to Clause 7 of the AMWELSH 1979.
This clause is new and has been included in recognition of current practice to include such or similar provisions in modern charterparties for bulk cargoes.
This clause makes the charterparty and all bills of lading issued hereunder subject to the provisions of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act of the United States, the Hague Rules or the Hague-Visby Rules, as applicable, or "such other similar national legislation as may mandatorily apply by virtue of origin or destination of the bills of lading" as stipulated in sub-clause (a) (Clause Paramount) as well as the other protective clauses specified in sub-clauses (b), (c) and (d), all of which are standard.
The incorporation of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act of the United States, the Hague Rules or the Hague-Visby Rules to apply not only under bills of lading issued under the charter but also to the charter itself, makes the same Rules apply also between the owners and the charterers under the charterparty. In this manner, there will be no change in the owners' liability merely because bills of lading are issued and may be negotiated.
Surprisingly enough, the AMWELSH 1979 contains no ice clause in its printed text although, obviously, fixtures concluded on the basis of the AMWELSH may entail calls at ports where ice risks may exist. This obvious shortcoming has been remedied in the AMWELSH 93 by the inclusion of a proper ice clause, the provisions of which are identical to the provisions in the ice clause found in the NORGRAIN 89 North American Grain Charterparty issued by ASBA.
The antiquated provisions in Clause 14 of the AMWELSH 1979 which only refers to "average" and not "general average" have been substituted by a proper general average clause as found in modern charterparties and it is left to the parties to agree on the venue and currency for adjustment/settlement of general average.
The Chamber of Shipping War Risks Clauses 1 & 2 contained in Clause 24 of the AMWELSH 1979 and which were drafted way back in 1935 in connection with the Spanish Civil War have since long been withdrawn as obsolete clauses and should, therefore, not be maintained in the AMWELSH any longer.
Instead, there have been included the Chamber of Shipping War Risk Clauses 1952 which are found in many existing charterparties, including the NORGRAIN 89 North American Grain Charter Party.
Things are changing fast in a fast-changing world and, as far as international shipping is concerned, the necessity of up-dating and modernising charterparties to match changes and new developments is more important than ever before. This also applies to war clauses - be it for voyage or time chartering - and has recently prompted the Documentary Committee of BIMCO to revise its time-honoured and well-tested standard war clauses, i.e., the CONWARTIME 1939 War Risk Clause for Time Charters and the VOYWAR 1950 War Clause for Voyage Chartering because of recent developments and, in particular, the fact that new supranational organisations such as the United Nations and the European Community are daily acquiring more power to intervene in war situations (the Gulf War and the situation in former Yugoslavia are recent examples of such intervention by the issuance of U.N. Security Council Resolutions and Directives issued by the European Community seriously affecting trading to and from war zones).
In connection with the discussions on how best to deal with the matter of war clauses in the AMWELSH 93, BIMCO had suggested that the revised VOYWAR Clause known as the VOYWAR 1993 War Clause, be incorporated in the AMWELSH 93 since this clause has been thoroughly revised to meet present-day requirements for a modern war clause including the possible action or intervention by supranational bodies or organisations as referred to above; besides, given the multitude and characteristics of war or warlike operations now seen, the Definitions in the VOYWAR have been considerably expanded and clarified.
Whilst acknowledging that the VOYWAR 1993 Clause is a great improvement, since the revision of the clause is of very recent date, ASBA would prefer to see the clause in use and tested for some time before including the VOYWAR Clause in the AMWELSH 93.
However, ASBA would be prepared to circulate the VOYWAR 1993 Clause to its members as an alternative clause and to consider including the clause in an amendment to the AMWELSH 93 at a future date when time had shown that the clause works satisfactorily.
In view of the multitude of dues and charges existing in many countries under different denominations even in different ports within the same country and also, sometimes, at different terminals within the port, it has been decided to leave it to the parties to negotiate and agree on these items; blank lines have therefore been provided for insertion, as appropriate.
Apart from a minor editorial amendment, the clause follows the text of the corresponding clause in the AMWELSH 1979 (Clause 25).
It is left open to the parties to decide whether address commission is payable and, if so agreed, to fill in the clause accordingly. If not agreed, and in some coal trades it is not common practice to pay address com-mission, the provisions of Clause 30 may be disregarded.
This is self-explanatory.
As a matter of consistency, ASBA has suggested that the arbitration clause in the various charter parties issued under the auspices of ASBA, including the NORGRAIN 89 Charter, the NYPE 93 and the now revised AMWELSH Charter (AMWELSH 93), be identical by using the text of the Arbitration Clause in the NORGRAIN 89 Charter (except for deleting the reference to "grain trade" which is peculiar to the NORGRAIN Charter). This was agreed and, as will be seen, Clause 32 provides for a choice between New York or London as venue for arbitration. It is not unusual that arbitration clauses in various charter parties provide for an optional choice of venue of arbitration but, surprisingly enough, there have been quite a few examples showing that the parties by oversight or ignorance have forgotten to decide which of the alternatives should apply. In order to avoid any surprises later on, it is therefore important to remember this during negotiations and to delete sub-clause (a) or sub-clause (b) as appropriate. Similarly, if the parties should wish to avail themselves of the possibility of conducting arbitration according to the Shortened Arbitration Procedure in New York or the Small Claims Procedure in London the actual figures as may be agreed during chartering negotiations should be duly filled in (a) or (b) as the case may be.
(Printed in BIMCO Bulletin No. 1, 1994)
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