Forgotten fees

A stevedore at the discharge port was injured when a spring on the ship broke off and hit him whilst he was on the pier receiving the cargo.

An administrative investigation into the accident was opened and some months later found that only the ship should be investigated in respect of the accident. An appeal was lodged against this finding, which was successful and it was accepted that the terminal operator should be investigated as well.

However, no further investigation took place. The case remained quiet for nearly two years until a hearing was convened with the local port agent. At the hearing it was contended that the port agent had no responsibility for the accident, and that any claim should be submitted to the terminal operator instead. All this was done in coordination with the P&I Club. Eventually formal legal action was commenced by the State against the ship’s Master and the local port agents as a “Responsible Third Party”.

The P&I Club was continuously kept informed of all developments and it was recommended that a specialist criminal lawyer be appointed. The P&I Club agreed and the lawyer was appointed.

After a couple of months the P&I Club asked for an estimate of the fees to which the correspondent replied, US$ 50,000.

The matter continued for many more months. For reasons unknown the correspondent omitted to forward the translated detailed invoices of the lawyer to the P&I Club. Eventually, the invoiced amount for legal fees had reached US$ 290,000 when the P&I Club became aware of them.

The P&I Club used this as an excuse not to pay the invoices, stating that the correspondent should pay them instead. This put the correspondent under pressure as the lawyer threatened them with legal action if the invoices remained unpaid.

ITIC supported the P&I correspondent in discussions with the P&I Club. After some negotiation between the correspondent and the lawyer, the fees were slightly reduced and ultimately the P&I Club agreed to reimburse the correspondent in full. After all, even though the amount of the invoices had come as a surprise to the P&I Club, they were covered under the policy and the P&I Club had suffered no detriment by the late notice of the invoices.

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