On thin ice

A shipbroker received a claim from owners for ice dues and winter surcharge on towage at a Baltic port to be passed on to the charterers.

The claim was sent to the charterers using an “opsclaims” e-mail address. The shipbroker advised owners that the claim had been passed on, but did not confirm that the claim had been accepted by charterers.

At subsequent weekly intervals for the following four months, the shipbroker sent a chaser to the charterer, using the same email address to which they had sent the claim. They then followed up monthly, still using the same e-mail address. Some 14 months later the shipbroker realised that the e-mail address was incorrect and they should have been e-mailing “claims@”. They then sent the claim to the correct address, at which point the charterers confirmed receipt, but advised that it was now time barred.

The brokers looked at ways of mitigating the loss, but charterers would not accept any liability for the claim. As a result, the brokers had to pay the owners the value of their claim, which was US$ 50,000. They were reimbursed by ITIC.

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