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Can the shipping line be held liable..??

Hi everyone, have a question as below from a reader.. What do you think..?? Can the shipping line be held liable..??

Appreciate your comments on the same.. Let’s help out someone in need..

Hi there. I’ve got quite unusual situation: the containers from Brasil to Russia were inspected by customs service in European transhipment port.

image for what do you thinkNaturally, all seals were changed and part of the goods were repacked.

We, as a consignee and notify party, didn’t get any info from carrier and was obliged to pass numerous customs inspection at the port of destination (new seals? additional goods, not mentioned in B/L?) and now we’ve been charged by the same carrier for demurrage and storage.

Any thoughts?


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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiarhttps://www.shippingandfreightresource.com
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. Dear Harish,
    Generally Shipping line only liable to pay if the cargo has damaged during transition. You must read the terms and conditions mentioned in transportation contract. in this agreement all the points is described regarding liability.

  2. Although it is not clear what type of Bs/L were utilized or any other terms of the sales and/or transportation contract, I would argue that since you were not notified nor had you approved in advance such change of seals/repacking procedure(unless it is included in the fine print of the contract), these additional charges are a direct consequence of the line’s decision to re-seal/re-pack and you should not be the party bearing the costs of such decision. You should also be able to claim any direct losses from your side due to the late delivery of the goods to their final destination.

    I may be going a bit too far here having only a bulk shipping background but I believe the principal is the same.

  3. This is pathetic. The shipping line should have had the courtey to inform you about sall this. Under normal circumstances shipping line passes the charges to the consignee. This is obviously bdyond their ccontrol.

  4. The responsibility that the shipping line should bare in this regard is the change of seal, if there was need to change the seal , they would have had submit a valid reason and inform shipper and also make log entry and take full responsibility for the cargo, however wrong declaration of goods is the responsibility of the shipper.

  5. No the shipping line can not be liable to pay! However the shipping line can be responsible to pay if the cargo is damaged whilest in transit

  6. It will also depend upon the Terms of Delivery.
    In case it is CIF, hope the consignee is not to
    be asked to make any Extra payment , rather
    it would be a contract between the Shipper and
    the Booking Agent / Shipping Line.

  7. Hi All!
    Its a bit strange to know that the seal of the container is being changed at transhipment port by customs.
    We do have imports coming to India, transhipped in middle east or Singapore, but seal is never being changed.

    In above scenario, I believe, its liner responsibility to inform all the associated parties (Consignor, Consignee and Notify) about the changes made at transhipment port.

  8. Under a Through Transport BL, l think the carrier is responsible for all aspects of that carriage unless the parties have agreed otherwise.
    Jeffrey Blum

  9. Demurrage and storage at destination is a legal charge. Not at transhipment port. The B/L ( transport contract) states that the cargo will be transported from receiving point to point of destination as specified, by what ever route necessary by the carrier.

    • Hello Jvaras, thank you for your comment.. The demurrage and storage was caused at port of final destination because there were discrepancies in seal number and additional goods not mentioned in B/L due to the inspection process at transhipment port.. It is not a question of the route the cargo took, but the costs involved at transhipment port while under the control of the shipping line..

  10. Evening,

    No-one has control over customs and unfortunatly someone has to pay for these exams / stops in terms of documentation, etc. and generally the freight fowarder / clearing agent is responsible which understandable BUT the shippling line should not charge demurrage and or storage especially if the shipping line did not inform the notify party within the prescribed time. Demurrage is not a charge that has a ‘costs’ attached to it.

    Hope this helps

    • Hello Eugene thank you for your comments.. It cannot be said that demurrage does not have costs attached to it.. Line’s may have costs such as lease costs (in case of leased containers), finance costs (in case of carrier’s containers) etc, so that would be a point of contention..

    • Ramana Murthy R S V., India.

      At times customs authorities in transhipment port inspects cargo. This would necessiatate affixing new seals. As per the process shipping has to communicate this to shipper / consignee and incorporate new seal nos and re-release BL.
      Some times times shipping lines may not inform about customs inspection and new seal nos to consignee / shipper. This would create problem during Customs examination at destination port.

      Consignee can take up the matter with destination office of the shipping line and request for waive of detention charges and extend demurrage free time if clearance of Cargo is delayed due inconsistency in seal nos and no. of packages in the container.


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