International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has warned its members of the need to incorporate terms and conditions into their business dealings in order to limit their potential exposure to liability.
ITIC cites the case of the agent at a discharge port who advised a shipper with cargo on board an inbound vessel that that the maximum draft was 40ft. Since the vessel’s draft was just under 41ft, it made an interim call to unload some cargo.
The agent subsequently received a claim from the shipper alleging that the
information it had provided was incorrect, and that vessels with drafts in excess of 40ft could still call at the port, but with two pilots on board, rather than one. The shipper argued that the agent should have been aware of this, and claimed $250,000 in respect of the costs of the wasted call and transporting the excess cargo.
The agent could not find the relevant provision relating to vessel draft on the website of the local pilots’ association, but was subsequently advised by the shipper that there was a link on the agent’s own website to an article explaining that vessels over 40ft could call at the port, providing there were two pilots on board. The agent contacted the local pilots’ association who confirmed that it was possible to call with a draft of 41ft and that the information was on its website, albeit not easy to find.
The agent had incorporated standard trading conditions which limited its liability to ten times its agency fee. This amounted to $36,500, which sum was accepted by the shipper and reimbursed to the agent by ITIC.
ITIC says the claim demonstrates the importance of businesses incorporating their terms and conditions into all their business dealings. ITIC’s terms and conditions, and guidelines for incorporating them, can be accessed athttps://www.itic-insure.com/knowledge/standard-trading-conditions/
*ITIC is managed by Thomas Miller. More details about the club and the services it offers can be found on ITIC’s website at www.itic-insure.com