Theft of loaded vehicles from road haulier's premises

An Italian freight forwarder was instructed by shippers to transport a consignment of copper pipes from a factory in Brescia to the load port, La Spezia, for onward shipment to Algiers.  The forwarder instructed haulier 'A' who in turn sub-contracted the work to haulier 'B'.

It was estimated that the total consignment would comprise 20 vehicle loads.  During the course of the contract, two loaded vehicles were stolen from haulier 'B's' premises.  The value of the stolen pipes was approximately US$135,000, but haulier 'B's' liability for the loss was limited by Italian law to US$9,000.  The shippers instructed lawyers who informed the forwarder that he would be held responsible for the shipper's loss.

Haulier 'A's' insurance cover was limited to US$30,000 and the shippers alleged negligence on the part of the forwarder in that he failed to carry out their instructions to ensure that sub-contracted hauliers carried adequate insurance.

The forwarder maintained that he was never instructed to arrange for sub-contracted hauliers to increase their insurance to cover the value of the goods and furthermore, when the subject had been raised by haulier 'A', the shipper refused to bear the extra cost of an increase in the haulier's insurance.

On the evidence available, the Club took the view that there was no liability on the forwarder, but the Club's lawyers were in favour of a negotiated settlement rather than relying on the Courts.  Accordingly meetings were arranged with the shippers and haulier 'A', and a tripartite agreement was reached whereby the forwarder, supported by the Club, agreed to make a contribution equivalent to approximately US$20,000.  In addition, the Club incurred legal fees amounting to US$7,800.

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