Off hire. In a time charter the charterer has the obligation to pay hire for the Ship continuously during the charter period at the agreed rate.
The hire is paid for the use (and hire) of the vessel. Therefore if the Charterer is prevented from making the full use of the ship for specific, agreed reasons which are completely within the control of the shipowner-he would not be responsible to pay hire for the period dosing which the ship is not at his full disposition, that is, during which there is loss of time to the Charterer. This period is known as “off hire”. If there is loss of time for reasons which are not within the owner’s control, for example, because of strikes by shore labour or because of bad weather, the ship is not “off hire” and the hire continues to be payable.
Certain agreed events can cause the ship to become off-hire. These are generally related to the equipment breaking down, the deficiency of the crew, and other similar causes. Such events are known as “off hire events”. The ship can also be treated as being “off hire” if its performance is not as described in the charterparty, e.g., if it cannot meet the warranted speed and there is an overall loss of time on sea passages because of the slower speed. In some charters the ship becomes off-hire when the shipowner decides to put the ship into drydock during the charter period and also if there is any time lost because the vessel fails to comply with anti-pollution regulations.
In The Mareva, 1977, the judge said: “So long as …(the ship and crew) are fully efficient and able to render to the charterers the service then required, hire is payable continuously. But if the ship is for any reason not in full working order to render the service then required from her, and the charterers suffer loss of time in consequence, then hire is not payable for the time so lost.” It is up to the charterer to prove that the ship is to be considered as being off hire and that he should not have to pay. If he cannot do so, the shipowners have a right to the hire.