Projects for standard contracts and clauses covering almost every sector of the shipping industry will be reviewed by BIMCO’s Documentary Committee (DC) when it meets on 21 and 22 September. The gathering of over 70 documentary experts from around the world will take place online for the first time and two new contracts and two clauses are set to be approved for publication.
With only one meeting taking place this year due to the coronavirus, the Committee has a very full agenda ahead next week. For the tanker sector, there is a new gas voyage charter party developed together with the Association of Ship Brokers and Agents (ASBA), New York. ASBAGASVOY has been adapted from the widely used ASBATANKVOY and tailored for the specific needs of the gas trade.
On the ship finance front, BIMCO continues to build its portfolio of standard terms sheets; this time with a new sale and leaseback term sheet, SHIPLEASE. The new form is a timely response to an increase in sale and leaseback arrangements, as owners seek greater liquidity and flexibility.
Both ASBAGASVOY and SHIPLEASE are set to be approved during the Committee meeting.
Also, sanctions remain a primary focus in the industry. BIMCO is steadily building a library of sanctions clauses to be used with different types of contract. The latest edition is a sanctions clause for container vessel time charter parties. The new clause is a nuanced version of the time charter clause published last December which deals with how sanctions should be addressed contractually in the multiple cargo interest and multiple scheduled ports of loading/discharging environment that characterises the container sector.
Law and arbitration also get a new clause from BIMCO with the addition of Hong Kong as the fourth named venue. The new clause is much shorter than its predecessors in that London, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong have all agreed a “unified” wording rather than four separate subclauses. The clause also contains new and useful provisions relating to the serving of notices.
Another important project to be discussed at the meeting is the first review of a brand new BIMCO Ship Sale Agreement. Standard forms of S&P agreements have changed little over the past decades. The new S&P agreement from BIMCO is set to buck that trend with an innovative and modern approach. Once the DC has commented on the first draft, it will be released for industry consultation. It is due for publication in 2021.
The revision of the industry’s most widely used dry cargo voyage charter party, GENCON, is an ongoing process. It is a major task to update a very popular standard form that is the bedrock of so many voyage charters. Close consultation with the industry plays a vital part in developing a new version that will be readily adopted. The DC will hear a progress report on the project. The new GENCON is due for publication in 2021.
As the offshore industry is currently facing a number of challenges, it is important to make sure that the contracts they rely on remain relevant and up to date. BIMCO is currently working on five offshore-related projects. Updates to our ocean towing agreements – TOWCON and TOWHIRE – are well underway together with an update of BARGEHIRE. A new contract for time chartering accommodation support vessels is also close to completion, while SUPPLYTIME 2017 will gain another new “special task” annex when work on a crane operations annex is completed. All of these new documents are due for publication in 2021.
The impact of events such as the COVID-19 pandemic on the performance of contracts is being addressed through the development of a force majeure clause for various types of agreement. A standard wording for a shipbuilding refund guarantee is also being prepared.
These are just some of the many projects that the Committee will review over the course of two days on 21 and 22 September.
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