Use of unauthorised versions of BIMCO documents
BIMCO‘s Secretariat has become aware of use in the market of unauthorised versions of BIMCO documents. This is a damaging practice that can have unexpected, and costly, implications because the law assumes that parties will have read their contract and so a later argument that the content was not as expected is unlikely to succeed.
The unamended terms set out in a standard BIMCO form can be relied upon as a true version of the document or provision and so there is no need to proof read the content to establish its authenticity. However, this is not necessarily the position with an unauthorised edition which might have the outward appearance of a BIMCO standard form but nevertheless contains subtle amendments. Differences that might arise are, for example, adjustments to wording that change the allocation of risk and responsibility, the inclusion of additional liabilities or perhaps insertion of the York Antwerp Rules 2004 which are less favourable to owners than the 1994 Rules. As well as the risk of more onerous terms being surreptitiously introduced into a contract, the resulting changes might create conflict between charter party and bill of lading terms and possibly prejudice P&I Club cover.
One of the objectives of BIMCO’s development of standard form documentation is to eliminate the time-consuming task of having to check every line in the clean version of a contract to verify the authenticity of each provision. Use of authorised documents thus enables market users to be confident that the content does not require proof reading.
Users will always wish to ensure that any BIMCO document is a genuine version. BIMCO therefore offers authenticated and secure electronic copies of its forms and documents, at a very reasonable price, through the on-line charter party editor BIMCO’s IDEA-2. This is a safe and reliable system which removes the risk of agreeing to terms that may, by accident or deliberate action, have been changed in an unofficial or counterfeit version.
If there are any doubts about the authenticity of a BIMCO provision, a copy should be sent to the Documentary Affairs Department, if possible indicating the source. Information which enables the origin of a counterfeit document to be identified will be rewarded with idea prints in recognition of the assistance given to help BIMCO put an end to the circulation of fake forms.