A fruity problem
A cargo of South African grapefruit arrived in a far eastern port. One of the duties of the ship agent was to arrange for a surveyor to go on board and, amongst other things, check that the seals on the hatches were intact. It is a requirement of the local customs authorities that container seals are intact before discharging.
While on board however, a misunderstanding led the crew to cut the seals on this particular cargo. As a result, the customs inspector delayed the start of discharge operations while the authorities clarified exactly what happened. This delay resulted in various costs, such as cancellation charges for the stevedores.
The owner attempted to blame the agent because the agent had appointed the surveyor on behalf of the owner. ITIC provided legal assistance to the agent and clarified that even if it could be shown that the surveyor was responsible, the agent was not liable for the actions of a party he had appointed.