CHARTER. A grant made by the sovereign either to the whole people or to a portion of them, securing to them the enjoyment of certain rights. Of the former kind is the late charter of France, which extended to the whole country; the charters which were granted to the different American colonies by the British government were charters of the latter species. 1 Story, Const. L. 161; 1 Bl. Com. 108 Encycl. Amer. Charte Constitutionelle.
2. A charter differs from a CONSTITUTION in this, that the former is granted by the sovereign, while the latter is established by the people themselves: both are the fundamental law of the land.
3. This term is susceptible of another signification. During the middle ages almost every document was called carta, charta, or chartula. In this sense the term is nearly synonymous with deed. Co. Litt. 6; 1 Co. 1; Moor. Cas. 687.
4. The act of the legislature creating a corporation, is called its charter. Vide 3 Bro. Civ. and Adm. Law, 188; Dane's Ab. h. t.
CHARTER, mar. contr. An agreement by which a vessel is hired by the owner to another; as A B chartered the ship Benjamin Franklin to C D.
CHARTER-LAND, Eng. law. Land formerly held by deed under certain rents and free services, and it differed in nothing from free socage land. It was also called bookland. 2 Bl. Com. 90.
CHARTER-PARTY, contracts. A contract of affreightment in writing, by which the owner of a ship or other vessel lets the whole, or a part of her, to a merchant or other person for the conveyance of goods, on a particular voyage, in consideration of the payment of freight. This term is derived from the fact, that the contract which bears this name, was formerly written on a card, and afterwards the card was cut into two parts from top to bottom, and one part was delivered to each of the parties, which was produced when required, and by this means counterfeits were prevented.
2. This instrument ought to contain, 1. the name and tonnage of the vessel; 2. the name of the captain; 3. the names of the letter to freight and the freighter; 4. the place and time agreed upon for the loading and discharge; 5. the price of the freight; 6. the demurrage or indemnity in case of delay; 7. such other conditions as the parties may agree upon. Abbott on Ship. pt. 3, c. 1, s. 1 to 6; Poth. h. t. n. 4; Pardessus, Dr. Coin. pt. 4, t. 4, c. 1, n. 708.
3. When a ship is chartered, this instrument serves to authenticate many of the facts on which the proof of her neutrality must rest, and should therefore be always found on board chartered ships. 1 Marsh. Ins. 407 . When the goods of several merchants unconnected with each other, are laden on board without may particular contract of affreightment with any individual for the entire ship; the vessel is called a general ship, (q. v.) because open to all merchauts. but where one Or more merchants contract for the ship exclusively, it is said to be a chartered ship. 3 Kent, Com. 158. Abbott, Ship. pt. 2, c. 2, S. 1 Harr. Dig. Ship and Shipping, iv.
CHARTERED SHIP. When a ship is hired or freighted by one or more merchants for a particular voyage or on time, it is called a chartered ship. It is freighted by a special contract of affreightment, executed between the owners, ship's husband, or master on the one hand, and the merchants on the other. It differs, from a general ship. (q. v.)


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