Not before. If the charterparty stipulates that”, . . . time for loading not to commence before 0800 hours on . . .” (the “laycan clause”) but the vessel is ready to load earlier, the charterer is not bound to use the ship before the laydays commencement date.
This date is the earliest the charterer originally required the ship to be at his disposal. It will be to the owner’s advantage, if the ship does become ready before the laydays commencement date, to advance the loading because the ship may become available earlier for the next fixture.
If the charterer can load before the agreed commencement of laytime, he may wish to do so but there should be a clause in the charterparty clearly stating that the laytime to count begins earlier than originally agreed after the tendering and acceptance of the Notice of Readiness. If this is not clear, the charterer could be taking an advantage which could lead to the loading being completed earlier than expected and despatch money becoming payable. For example, if the Laytime clause states that “laytime shall commence at 1 p.m. if notice of readiness is given before noon, and at 6 a.m. next working day if notice given during office hours after noon . . .” this clause can be qualified by inserting the words “Time actually used before commencement of laytime shall count”. The effect of loading before the laydays commence can be made clearer as follows:
“Provided Charterers consent to loading before laydays commence, any such time actually used shall count against laytime.”