Forwarder’s booking note

A Belgian port agent accepted a booking from a local forwarder for his principal's sailing to North Africa.  He then received a document headed "Liner Booking Note" from the forwarder setting out the terms of the booking.  A clause in this document gave the forwarder the right to claim damages from the shipowner should he fail to ship the goods by a specified date.  The ship agent immediately telephoned the forwarder to inform him that he had no authority from the shipowner to accept this term, but did not put this objection in writing. In the event, the ship suffered engine damage and never arrived at Antwerp.  The forwarder claimed from the owner, and the Belgian court found the owner liable to the forwarder under the terms of the forwarder's booking note.  The owner passed the claim to the agent who had failed to put his objection to the forwarder's terms in writing.

It is not unusual for cargo interests or their agents to attempt to impose their own terms on the ocean carrier.  If this happens, the agent should always go back in writing to the cargo interests informing them that, as agent for a principal, they have no authority to accept such responsibilities on behalf of the principal.

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