Switchgear on deck - wet damaged

An in-house liner agent received a booking for eight metal-clad switchgear units to be transported on his principal's service to Panama.  Although the agent informed the shipper by telephone that he could not guarantee underdeck stowage for the switchgear, he failed to confirm this in writing, nor was the bill of lading claused "on deck at shipper's risk".  The units were stowed on deck, and suffered wet and rust damage.  The consignee refused to take delivery and the shipper sued the shipping line for US$900,000 plus interest and costs.  The litigation lasted several years and was eventually settled by the line for US$600,000, of which US$500,000 (the agent's limit of liability with ITIC) was contributed by the in-house ship agent.

This claim illustrates the need  to put things in writing.  If the agent had confirmed in writing what he said on the telephone, this claim could not have been pursued.

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