"As Agent Only"
Members frequently encounter problems as a result of their failure to sign-off faxes, letters, telexes etc. making it clear that they are acting not in their own personal capacity but on behalf of a named principal.
The aim of a declaration of status is to make clear to the person to whom the communication is being sent exactly what the agent's authority is and on whose behalf he acts. If this point is not clarified there is a risk that the agent will be personally liable on the contract or will be taken to have given advice or made representations in his personal capacity and not as an agent.
The agent could also find himself personally liable to pay for goods and services ordered for his principal; the fact that everyone in the port is aware that the company acts only as an agent and not as a shipowner or charterer, will not prevent the agent from being found liable in the event that he orders supplies or services without declaring his agency status. In the case of Maritime Stores -v- Marshall (1963) the agent instructed stevedores to order certain lashing equipment and said "send the bill to me". The judge said the fact that Maritime Stores knew that Marshall were ship agents was "in no way determinative of the issue". He found on the facts of the case that the contract was made between, and only between, Maritimes Stores and Marshall and that Marshall was personally liable.
Failure to collect Delivery Charges
A liner operator running a service between Europe and the Far East provided its agent in the UK with a breakdown of additional charges to be levied for the transportation of containers to and from different UK ports. An employee...
Erroneous delivery of container
During Thanksgiving week cargo receivers in the US telephoned an agent's office daily on numerous occasions requesting a release date for two containers of furniture for which they were the notify party. The cargo receivers...
Incorrect description of ship's fuel requirements
A broker for the time charterer fixed a ship on the NYPE form for one time charter trip from Rio de Janeiro to the Arabian Gulf/ Pakistan/ India/ Indonesia range. During fixture negotiations the owner's broker sent the...
A bunker broker, representing the owner, whose vessel was fixed on charter to load at Rotterdam for discharge at Durban, advised that the owner should bunker at Durban where the prices were, at that time, cheaper. As a...
Caught in the Middle
A port agent at the discharge port received a cargo of potatoes which became the subject of a dispute between the ship owner and the consignee. The owner claimed the right to hold the potatoes as the cheque paying the...
Incorrect instructions for reefer temperature setting
A port agent in the UK received a container list from his principal's South American agent which included two containers of frozen meat shipped at -18oC. When this information was transferred to the agent's computer system...
Liability of marine surveyor
A marine surveyor received a telephone call from a marine insurance broker requesting the survey and valuation of a 17 year old yacht for insurance purposes. He was told that the yacht had just been sold for A$ 95,000 and...
Agent's liability for US customs duty
A US port agent received a notice from the US Customs Service of its intention to impose a fine on one of the agent's US tramp principals. It was alleged that the principal had failed to pay duty on foreign repairs to...
Incorrect clausing of bill of lading
A company was appointed as a sub-agent by the general agent of a shipping line and instructed to complete the documentation on its behalf for most of the chartered ships represented by them. In that capacity, the sub-agent...
Recovery of broker's commission under COA
A shipbroker Member asked the Club for assistance to recover approximately US$ 250,000 commission owed under a contract of affreightment. The owner was reported to be experiencing financial difficulties and there was some...
Failure to check status of owners
A shipbroker Member in Italy, acting on behalf of a Swiss charterer, fixed a ship to carry a cargo of soya pellets from Argentina to Tunisia with arrival at the load port to be between 18 and 22 September. The Member was...