Berth terms

Berth terms. This expression is used for shipments under a charterparty. The purpose of these “terms” is mainly to clarify which side pays for the loading and discharging costs of the cargo.

The-phrase “berth terms” seems somewhat outdated, the more common phrases to describe the responsibilities being “liner terms” and “gross terms”. In the liner service it was customary for the shipowner to pay far loading and discharging (and also for stowing, trimming and securing) hence the use of the phrase “liner terms”. If shipments were made on a chartered ship under the same conditions for loading and discharging expenses as applicable to regular liner ships offering a similar service, the charterparty contained a clause stating that the ship was carrying the goods under “berth terms” or “liner terms”. These expressions were generally not concerned with cargo handling-rates but with the cost of cargo handling on board the ship.

One example of such a clause is: “Steamer to be loaded according to berth terms, . . . “(Baltimore Berth Grain charterparty) (Form C). The “berth terms” and the responsibilities were not detailed for the loading port but for the discharging port there was some indication as to who would pay. The relevant clause stated:

“Cargo to be received at destination as fast as vessel can deliver during ordinary working hours, any custom of the port to the contrary notwithstanding, but receivers of the cargo are in no case obliged to take delivery at night without their consent, and in any event the steamer must bear all extra expenses incurred by working at night…”

In this form of charter, on berth terms, the shipowner undertakes to carry out loading and discharging subject to the custom of the port or as fast as the ship can (handle the cargo) or under “customary despatch”.


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Berth rates or liner rates

International Container Bureau (BIC)