Here’s a very unique question from Michael about Over height cargo crushed due to discrepancy in bill of lading..
I have an issue where the HBL states cargo OOG. MBL does not reflect this.
The over height cargo in an open top container was therefore not managed as OOG and the over height contents were crushed by spreader during discharge.
Line would have captured the HBL details onto their MBL and sent this to Forwarding Agents (I presume). Are Freight Forwarders liable for not checking the MBL? or are Line liable for not correctly capturing HBL details?
Michael, thanks for raising this question.. There are two issues here..
- The issue of damage to the cargo
- The issue of possible incorrect documentation
Generally, any shipping line, port, chief officer, stevedore or operation superintendent worth their salt know the importance and techniques of handling OOG cargo properly and safely..
Whether the bill of lading declares the OOG or not, these OOG cargoes are loaded/discharged by sight and surely someone would have noticed that the cargo is over height..
There are many people and computer systems involved in the physical discharge operation.. So, personally, I am quite surprised that no one noticed that the cargo was over height and a normal spreader was used to discharge the cargo thereby crushing it..
If this happened as you mentioned, the blame for this mishap firstly would lie squarely with the stevedoring company or the port operators utilised by the shipping line to handle the discharge of the cargo..
The Master of the vessel and consequently the shipping line are also responsible, since the master of the ship is responsible for the safety of the ship and cargo, and he must supervise the work of the stevedores for general safety..
In this case, since the vessel/master knows that the cargo was over-height when it was loaded, they should have taken care when discharging the same cargo..
While a bill of lading performs 3 important functions, advising the stevedores or port operators HOW to discharge any cargo is NOT one of them.. Shipping lines have special cargo lists or manifests covering OOG, Reefer, Hazardous cargoes.. This list will indicate how many OOG cargoes are on board and the container details.. OOG cargoes are also indicated on the ships bayplan..
Even with all these above people involved and the processes involved, if it still happened, then it was a total failure to follow basic shipping principles from everyone’s side..
Coming to the second issue – there are several questions regarding this..
- As per your info, the HBL showed the correct OOG details.. But you don’t say if the HBL was issued by the freight forwarder you contracted or was it issued by someone else..??
- If it was issued by the FF you contracted, then was he also the person submitting the bill of lading details to the shipping line for the issuance of the MBL..??
- The entity that submitted the bill of lading details was supposed to cross check the bill of lading details submitted and the MBL issued.. If the details were not submitted, then it is that entity’s fault..
- Was the cargo “declared” as over-height at the time of booking..?? If not, then the shipper or their agent will be liable for non-declaration..
- If so, then the shipping line also cannot be fully absolved from liability because, if the cargo was booked as over-height, then they should have cross checked the booking vs shipping instructions received and the MBL issued..
- They would have declared the cargo as over-height when loading the cargo and updated their manifests/special cargo lists accordingly..
So, to answer your question about who was responsible :
- In the first instance, the shipping line, their stevedore and their vessel/master for not noticing that the cargo was OOG when discharging and using the incorrect equipment to discharge the cargo
- In the second instance, the entity who did not advise the shipping line that the cargo was OOG via the bill of lading details for any mismatch of documents
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