A restricted defence

A restricted defence

The charterer asked the agent whether there were any restrictions which might cause problems for the ship at the discharge port. The agent telephoned the terminal who advised, verbally, that there were no restrictions and the agent passed that information back to the owner and charterer.

Two weeks later the ship called at the port but due to air draft restrictions the ship could not discharge the full cargo. As the cargo was discharged, the ship lifted in the water such that she was almost touching the port crane. Therefore, the ship had to shift and complete the discharging at another facility.

The charterers subsequently brought a claim against the agent for around US$ 45,000 for additional costs incurred as a result of having had to discharge part of the cargo elsewhere.

While the agent had provided incorrect information to the operators of the ship, they did so merely by passing on the incorrect information which they had been provided by the terminal. The defence was that as the agent was only passing on information that was provided to them, they had not been negligent. However, it was difficult for the agent to prove this as there was nothing in writing.

The agents negotiated with the charterer who agreed settlement at EUR 34,000. This was covered by ITIC on the basis that the claim would not have been straightforward to defend and thus costs were avoided.

This is a good example of why all telephone conversations should be followed up with an email – or at the least a telephone attendance note, as contemporaneous evidence is always helpful in a dispute.

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