One booking or three?

A German agent for Chinese shipping company received an enquiry regarding the shipment of steel rails in three consignments from Hamburg to Huangpu. The agent’s principal quoted a price of US$65 per tonne and this was passed to the shipper. The first consignment was shipped at that rate but the principal refused to the second and third consignments at the same rate. The freight market had risen and the principal maintained he had only accepted the first booking at the original rate. The agent had (incorrectly) assumed the acceptance was for all three consignments. The shipper eventually paid (under protest) considerably more to ship the final two consignments, and claimed most of the difference from the German ship agent, who had confirmed a rate on behalf of his principal without having authority to do so. The shipper could equally have demanded that the Chinese shipowner carry the rails at the price agreed with his agent, in which case the agent would have been facing a claim from the shipowners for acting without authority.

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