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The MYBA Charter Agreement explained
14th June 2023
Not only is a superyacht charter unmatched by any other holiday in terms of luxury and adventure, but the nuances unique to yachting deem it necessary to have a reliable charter contract in place. Used by most reputable charter brokers, the MYBA Charter Agreement ensures both the yacht owner and charterer are protected should any issues arise. With more clientele entering the charter market, Sussie Kidd and Jacqui Lockhart discuss the most important elements of the contract.

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The MYBA Charter Agreement explained

Created by industry professionals to clearly define all terms related to the yacht charter and protect all parties involved in a superyacht charter, the MYBA Charter Agreement was first drawn up over 30 years ago. It has since gone through a series of revisions as the superyacht industry has evolved, and issues have arisen, in an attempt to cover all eventualities. Having been thoroughly tried and tested over the years, it is now the most respected and utilised charter contract.

“The contract is as much for the yacht owners as it is for the charter guests and strikes a balance between these two main parties,” explains Jacqui Lockhart, head of charter management Europe at Camper & Nicholsons. “We are continuously glad that it’s in place as it gives us a good basis to handle situations that we might not have anticipated.”

Sussie Kidd, senior charter broker at Camper & Nicholsons, acknowledges that the eight-page document can be overwhelming for clients, but reassures that it has their best interests at heart. “Holidaying on a boat involves certain risks that don’t apply to other types of holidays,” she cautions. “Charter professionals have an obligation to ensure that all parties are on the same page prior to a charter, which is what the contract does.”

Camper & Nicholsons charter brokers always urge their clients to read through the contract carefully, particularly those new to chartering. While the charter broker will have already made their client aware of the key points in the contract before they see it, there are certain terms and elements that often need reinforcing or clarifying.

The standard deposit to secure a charter is 50 per cent of the charter fee, which is due on signature of the contract. “Often clients can’t understand the need to pay this amount so far in advance, especially when booking a year ahead,” says Sussie. It is, however, possible to ask the broker to negotiate a split deposit payment, which are sometimes agreed upon for charters booked well in advance.

The additional fee clients pay in advance to cover the cost of provisions during the charter, the advanced provisioning allowance (APA) is a term that features frequently in the contract. The charter broker will clarify what’s included within the charter fee, and what’s not, and will check the APA accounts after the charter to ensure they are in order. In addition, clients can have access to the current balance of the APA at any point during the charter. “The charter manager will also liaise with the captain to pre-empt any issues, such as funds running low,” adds Jacqui.

One of the most important clauses in the contract draws attention to the fact that the captain has the ultimate authority on board. A common example of when this comes into play is with the use of jet skis. “Jet ski restrictions have increased dramatically, with most destinations not allowing them to be used, and certainly not by someone without a jet ski license,” advises Sussie. Furthermore, superyachts are commercial vessels, and the crew need to abide by manning regulations, such as minimum hours of rest. “It’s important, therefore, that the charterer and their guests understand that the captain is obliged to maintain that all operations are within the local rules and international regulations.”

The latest edition of the MYBA Charter Agreement saw the special conditions section expanded due to the need for more clauses about money laundering and KYC protocols. This section also allows for the inclusion of some of the client’s and yacht owner’s more specific requirements. “If clients have particular concerns or expectations, these can be addressed and mutually agreed upon, and then written in the special conditions section,” explains Sussie. A typical example includes food preparation requirements.

Ensuring the special conditions section covers all the client’s expectations, however, requires a proactive and honest exchange of information. “If something is an important part of the charter experience for the client or their guests, then it should be discussed with their charter broker upfront,” asserts Jacqui. “The charter broker will then deem whether it’s necessary or not to be included as a clause in the special conditions section. This ensures the clients gets the best out of their charter.”

There are, of course, certain elements that can never be guaranteed within the contract due to the nature of yachting, such as the weather and securing berthing in a certain port. A key part of the charter broker’s role is to communicate the need for a flexible mindset during a charter, as the itinerary may need to adapt to the conditions.

If, during the charter, the client finds it doesn’t correspond with what’s been agreed to in the contract, they should notify the captain or their broker as soon as possible while they are still on board. “Crew are usually open to constructive criticism, so if the client feels that something is not as they expected it to be, communication can rectify most issues,” recommends Jacqui. “Complaints made after the charter’s conclusion will not get considered.”  

Clients are paying a significant amount money to charter a superyacht, so it’s preferable that their experience doesn’t lead to arbitration. While this does sometimes happen, the MYBA Charter Agreement has proved very effective in settling any disputes. “What I’ve seen over the years is that all parties end up accepting what was originally proposed in the contract, and everyone’s wasted time and legal fees,” comments Jacqui.

To ensure clients have the best possible experience in accordance with their expectations, the main thing they should do is choose the right charter broker. As Sussie concludes; “It’s so important that their broker knows the contract well and can provide the right information and advice, because it can make or break the charter .”