The New Year saw the conclusion of a cargo dispute between a small Canadian importer and one of the major lines. For the importer, it was their first shipment – a test case that went very wrong. The container in which the goods were carried was substantially damaged at some point during the carriage, allowing the ingress of water and, ultimately, the destruction of the clothing inside by mildew.

The importer’s inexperience resulted in several oversights: cheap day labour was hired to dispose of the goods, rather than a marine cargo expert, and they were unable to produce a certificate of destruction for damaged cargo. Further, the importer provided prompt notice of claim to their forwarder, but not the line. The forwarder collected documents and notified the line – but outside the 3-day notice requirement contained in the bill of lading. The line used these deficiencies as the basis for refusing the claim.

However, in the result we were able to obtain recovery in excess of 80% of the total value without litigation. “Remember that the lines’ claims managers – and claims managers generally – are paid to deny claims, not to pay out on them. If you believe you have a meritorious claim but are not getting satisfaction from the insurance or claims process, you should consult counsel,” advises Gavin Magrath. “A good lawyer can get past the stonewalling and force genuine negotiations.”

For more information contact Gavin Magrath: