On 20 November 2009, Justice Pitt of the Ontario Superior Court handed down a summary judgment in favour of New Jersey based forwarder and NVOCC (and Magrath O’Connor client) American Transport Logistics against a Toronto-based shipper, Kobi Group. The case involved a series of containers exported from a third party distribution center in Germany to the Caribbean. As a result of a combination of factors, the goods were seized and destroyed by authorities several months after arrival in St. Lucia, leaving tens of thousands of dollars of unpaid charges in their wake.

Cases like these raise any number of legal issues, in particular with respect to the choice of forum. Here, the forwarder wisely chose to pursue the shipper in its home jurisdiction, avoiding interlocutory forum arguments and obtaining judgment in the jurisdiction most likely to contain enforceable assets.

“It’s important to choose a forum that is practical both from a litigation and an enforcement perspective,” noted Gavin Magrath, counsel to ATL. “Here in Ontario, there was only a contractual connection to the transaction, which had no material connection to the jurisdiction. However, here we had access not only to the defendant’s operations and officers, but also to the Simplified Procedure for cases under $100,000.00. Both of those factors helped us move more rapidly to judgment.”

American Transport Logistics v. Kobi Group Inc., [2009] OJ no 4980 (Sup Ct).