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 freight had been stopped. The owner threatened legal proceedings against the port agent if the cargo was released and the consignee threatened proceedings if the goods were not. The consignee claimed his automatic right as holder of the bill of lading to possession of the cargo. The port agent was an innocent party being dragged into a dispute which was none of his making concerning a commodity which was deteriorating. Attempts to persuade the protagonists to settle their differences failed and the Club arranged for the issue of interpleader proceedings. These proceedings are served on conflicting claimants for an order that the issue be decided between them, allowing the innocent party to be released from the dispute.
The judge ordered the owner and the consignee to present their case to the court. The agent was awarded the cost of bringing the action.