Missed message

A ship agent received notification from their principal that the port of destination had issued new regulations specifying that ships carrying specific dangerous cargo would not be permitted to enter particular berths.

The principal instructed the ship agent to advise them if any shipper was to book dangerous cargo so that alternative arrangements could be made if necessary.

The ship agent accepted a booking for a shipment, unaware at the time of booking that the cargo contained dangerous goods as per the new regulations. Shortly after the booking was made the shipper sent the ship agent the details of the shipment which showed the cargo was indeed dangerous goods. However the agency staff member to whom the email was sent had since left the company. It appeared that his email address was not being monitored nor were his emails forwarded to a colleague. Therefore, neither the ship agent nor the principal were aware that the shipment contained dangerous goods. The cargo was subsequently received at the wharf and accepted onto the ship by the master.

Once the ship was enroute the owner realised that the containers contained dangerous cargo and that they would face problems in the port of discharge. They decided to deviate to another port where the cargo could be transhipped onto a different ship calling at a berth in a port where the cargo could be accepted.

The principal brought a claim against the ship agent for US$ 52,000, representing the additional costs incurred in deviating and transhipping the cargo, in mitigation of higher costs which would have been incurred if the ship arrived with the dangerous goods on board.

It was accepted that the ship agent should have set up a system whereby emails sent to the addresses of former staff were seen, and the ship agent had clearly failed to advise their principal of the dangerous cargo as per the principal’s instructions. Nevertheless, the master had also accepted the cargo without any objection.

The ship agent discussed the matter with their principal and with ITIC’s approval agreed a settlement of US$ 25,000, which ITIC reimbursed.

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