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Case study about incorrect sending of arrival notification

Further to my post regarding arrival notification to clients, one of the readers seems to have landed himself in hot water and is seeking assistance as below.. Any ideas/comments..?? Who is at fault here..?? The shipping line or the consignee..??

can some one help me on this issue…

CARGO ARRIVAL was sent by me on 29/03/2012 mentioning that the shipment is arriving on 30/04/2012… it was a typing error as the date to be entered was 30/03/2012… the shipment got delayed & reached on 09/04/2012 where as the consignee came to release the shipment only on 30/04/2012… he never cared to check before that day whether the shipment has arrived the port… now they have paid heavy port storage as these were 18 container’s…

they have filed a suit in local court claiming all this figure from us… they have already a copy of arrival notice from our company sent on 29/03/2012 with a wrong date… in short we have already sent them the arrival notice, before the shipment has reached port, but the date mentioned on it was wrong… can some one help me to save my skin, as the management will come back to me asking for an explanation & its for sure i will be fired & asked to pay this amount…

will be looking forward to some valuable comments on this…


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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
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. Hey Shipping Guys and Girls, Manogaran vellayan from Malaysia. I am a Logistics Consultant, Marine Cargo Insurance Specialist, Cargo Claims Specialist, Cargo Surveyor trainer in Logistics Modules and now Trainer in GST Workshop.

    Arrival Notice by Shipping Company is a must and it is the responsibility of the Liner/Vessel Operator/Shipping Agent. Only Ocean Bill of Lading which comes with Negotiable in 3 Originals NEED NOT HAVE TO ISSUE ARRIVAL NOTICE, WHY?

    Let me answer you with an example. An Ocean BL is issued usually to unknown parties. Why I say Unknown parties because all other BLs are issued between known parties. Consignee need not necessary to identify himself for cargo collection. It is the Liners’ duty and responsibility to Deliver the Cargo and therefore need to send Arrival Notice. The Consignee is ONLY ONE and already known to Liner in their Documents which states Non-Negotiable (Seaway Bill, Through Transport Bill of Lading, Multi Modal Bill of Lading, Straight Bill of Lading).

    Now, in the case of Ocean BL (OBL), 3 Originals with Negotiable Clause. I bought 10 Containers of Oranges from China to Malaysia in 1 Ocean Bill of Lading. Before cargo arrives to Malaysia, I as Consignee in the OBL, will take to a Fruits WholeSaler and sell the OBL. I will Chop/Sign behind OBL and (Endorse).

    Fruits WholeSaler will subsequently sell to SuperMarket A with Endorsement as I did. SuperMarket A goes to another HyperMarket and sells all 10 Containers with Endorsement, who wants delivery of physical Oranges for his HyperMarket.

    So, Liner knows only Consignee as stated in the OBL. But the holder to the title of the goods currently with HyperMarket. If so, How do you think the Liner knows whereabout the OBL and is with whom? Where will he send the Arrival Notice? The last person who bought the OBL must present to the Liner.

    Hey, I have a case study where I had to go to Singapore and convince the Liner to take delivery without BL in Malaysian Port. Worst to say, a Regional Manager from UK sitting in Singapore took 6 months to release my client’s container.

  2. Allow me to give my 2-bit! The shipper must have notified the consignee about the shipment. The Original Bill of Lading has an “SOB” date and depending on the normal transit-time he should have checked the “whereabouts” of the cargo. If the shipping company at destination had advised the consignee about cargo arrival “one month plus” than the normal transit, the consignee should have checked the actual date and made a noise about the such a delay. Then thing would have been sorted out. Moreover, sending “arrival notice” to the consignee is an value added service.

  3. Arrival Notices are a “service” that the liner provides to the cnee/, it is not an obligation. Such practices are made to assist in fostering the good name of the company.

    All OB/Ls should have a clause on the back absolving them of the responsibility to notify the party of impending arrival of cargo. Mostly found under the “Notification and Delivery” section. Responsibility, falls on the POLf.forwarder/broker and the buyer to periodically check updated arrival times.

    Edison Tano

  4. It is not mandatory to send cargo arrival notice to cone. The cargo interest should keep checking about the wherebouts once he receives the documents or get infor. from the shipper.This un intential error from the part of ship agent clerk on wrong date cnnot be blamed.
    jerome d souza

  5. the definition of an ETA is “estimated” time of arrival. hence the consignees clearing agent is at fault as their duty was to track this shipments exact docking and berthing. most lines will advise you at the bottom of their ANF that no liability will be taken for incorrect info on the ANF. furthermore the entry clerk should have picked up that something was amiss as a shipment cannot be cleared a month in advance. i would like to know the outcome of this court case.

  6. Dear All,

    Please note cargo arrival notice is only notification and it is not mandatory to send the arrival notice to the consignee, it is purely consignee mistake he should have followed up for the consignment.

    Dont worry the court will be 100% in your favour.

  7. thanks to everyone for their comments… infact there were 2 shipments for the same customer under different bl… 1st shipment consisted of 4 cont & the second consisted of 18 cont… one was shipped out from load port on 17/03/2012 & the second one regarding which we are discussing was loaded on 19/03/2012… the difference between both these shipments were only of 2 days… the CARGO ARRIVAL NOTICE for the first one stated ETA as 29/03/2012 & the second one was printed as 30/04/2012 instead of 30/03/2012… the customer came & collected the first shipment on time… if common sense prevails, then the person at the purchase/import desk of the customer, should have immediately questioned, why is it taking 1 month more when both shipments are loaded within 2 days of difference… they have both BL copy & the SOB is clearly mentioned on it… if i link the first shipment to the second shipment which is in question, will it have any positive impact on our case… i will be deeply waiting for your valuable comments once again on this… rgds/pan

  8. If you follow the rules strictly, it is the shipper’s fault. The shipper is the one that made the error, they told the consignee that the cargo should be picked up the 30/04. Of course the consignee should pay attention, but depending on the contract and the terms, legally you cannot blame them.

    Freight fowarders should be aware of average transit times between the POL and POD,
    and direct importers should have alarm bells going off when the shipment is taking a month longer than on that route normally. In either case, someone at the consignee blindly typed in a number into their system without double-checking. While not double-checking weird results can be considered stupid, it happens very often.

    My advice, if they take this to court, at least try to split the detention charges.. Also as mentioned earlier, give advice to the management people to implement the rule that longstanding containers should be looked after more closely. Showing you thought about the issue and try to avoid it in the feature might just save your job 🙂

    I’m sorry about bringing bad news, but good luck!

  9. I pity the importer in case he really was not aware of the shipment arrival date, he should be careful.
    a) what was the cargo – how urgent did he need it?
    b) Did he get any information from shipper about cargo arrival
    c) Did the importer have BL in hands with SOB date.
    d) When did he pay for the goods or under L/C, does he have a custom agent to clear cargo and when he was intimated.
    e) Sending wrong arrival notice is a mistake of shipping line
    f) How many free days were allowed for this shipment
    g) As already stated in earlier comment both are at fault, also when a customer tracks cargo on site, many a time the informaiton is incorrect and shipper goes to shipping line or agent to check exact arrival date.
    h) Still I would support the importer in this case as it is duty of shipping line to communicate with importer in case they did not clear the cargo within stipulated free period and make sure that importer is aware of incurring cost.Shipping line should have made efforts to help customer to save cost.And with the rising cost and poor margins the importer should survive to import goods in the future.
    i) I suggest to inform the facts to importer and can they share the cost. shipping line can waive the detention ( container rent) completely and ask importer to pay port charges ( cost at port) and in case importer does not agree to waive complete charges.
    I)In my opinon since customer seems big see their track record and assure them you can compensate in future business.

    In case customer is genuine he will agree and shipping line has to be fair in waiving maximum charges and not fleece the importer for no fault of his.

  10. Both members are at fault. Really it is up to everyone to track this shipment correctly. Is this your direct customer an importer, or a freight forwarder? That is an important question.
    Don’t you, as the SSL send out notifications and reminders? Did no body stay on top of this file after the a/n was sent out and notice this mistake? Did no one remind the customer ‘hey your freight is till here pending payment OBL and customs etc?
    Legally speaking I cannot say who would win this arguement. It depends I would think strongly if it was a freight forwarder or a straight importer.
    This industry is all about pointing fingers when storage is accrued, and would point strongly to who made the initial mistake, regardless.

    • Hello,

      Here I express my views..

      1/. Shipper would have given tentative arrival to importer
      2/. Importer’s broker would have guided
      3/. Who suggested the law suit against carrier, shows, not gone thoroughly the rules, terms and conditions of BL on reverse side mentioned by carrier.
      4/. Error on arrival , here mentioned as early, but actual arrival a month later.
      5/. While taking delivery order, the importer or the agent to check, if delay they are liable to pay container detention and port storage.

      Here, shipping line/forwarders is not too much attn on the claim, this will not hold good in the legal front.

      Lawer /logistics profession in last 3 decades


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