A bogus bill

A liner agent released a cargo of ceramics that had been shipped from the Far East when presented with what they assumed was the original bill of lading. It later transpired that the bill of lading was a forgery.

The shipper issued legal proceedings against the line who had a strict liability under local law for not releasing the cargo against a genuine bill of lading. The total amount of the claim amounted to US$ 25,000. The line claimed an indemnity from their agent. The question was had the agent been negligent. The principle behind the agent’s liability in this type of case is to consider if an ordinary prudent agent would have noticed the fraud.

The bill of lading presented was almost identical to the genuine one except for one detail that was missing on the forgery. Arguably the agent could have identified this as a fake bill of lading, but given how similar to the original it looked, this would have been difficult. In the circumstances a settlement was reached with the line and the agent contributed US$ 15,000. ITIC reimbursed the agent.

The main source of ship agency claims seen by ITIC are those which involve bills of lading. ITIC has a bills of lading e-learning seminar, which informs you of areas of risk relating to bills of lading, so that you can prevent a loss occurring in your business. You can watch the video here: https://www.iticinsure. com/knowledge/e-learning/ bills-of-lading/

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