Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Lay Day Definition:

A term of a maritime law contract: days stipulated for the loading or unloading of cargo from a ship.

Also sometimes referred to as laytime, lay time or lay-time or lay-hours.

Lay day is sometimes spelled as layday or lay-day(s).

Lay days generally start when the ship issues a certificate of readiness to load or, as the case may be, to unload.

Lay daysIn Nielsen v Wait, Justice Esher wrote:

"... the days which are given ... either to load or to unload without paying for the use of the ship are lay days."

In Compania Naviera, Justice Guest wrote:

"Lay days are the days which parties have stipulated for the loading or discharge of the cargo and, if they are exceeded, the charterers are in breach."

"Demurrage is the agreed damages to be paid for delay if the ship is delayed in loading or discharging beyond the agreed period."


  • Compania Naviera Aeolus SA v Union of India 1964 AC 868; also published at 1962 3 All ER 670 and cited with approval in Dias Compania v Louis Dreyfus Corp. (1978) 1 All E.R. 724 at page 726.
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Maritime Law - A Glossary
  • Gilmore, Grant, The Law of Admiralty (New York: Foundation Press, 1975), page 211.
  • Nielsen & Co. v Wait, James & Co. 1865 16 QB 6

Categories & Topics:

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!