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Ship agents were contacted by owners whose ship was being fixed to discharge at a West African port. Owners advised that they were intending to discharge 10 large tanks, each weighing 69 metric tons.

The agent prepared a proforma disbursement account but overlooked a section of the tariff headed ‘Miscellaneous’. That section provided that all such cargo weighing above 50 tons or in excess of specified dimensions would be subject to a surcharge. The proforma disbursement account was sent to the owners without specifying the additional charges. The owners fixed their ship on the basis of the lower costs provided.

Before the ship arrived at port the manifest was sent to the terminal. This was the point that the additional costs were discovered. An invoice was sent to the shipper who rejected the extra costs as they had fixed on an ‘all inclusive rate’ with owners.

The owner claimed from the agent. While a proforma disbursement account is an estimate the agent had clearly been negligent. The agent was able to negotiate a 15% discount on the total bill with the terminal and the claim was settled for US$ 22,600 which was reimbursed by ITIC.

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