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There are significant risks for those that operate in shipping and transport.  Margins are low and some risk factors are out of the control of the cargo owner, freight forwarder or carrier.  Frequently, determination of liability comes down to the terms of transport documents and often there will be gaps in the documentation process.

We frequently work with insurers, transport operators, freight forwarders and cargo owners with commercial law matters, drafting of documents and dispute resolution.  Examples of our specific experience includes:

  • Container detention – We often advise freight forwarders and cargo owners on container detention issues.  If the containers are still on hire it is crucial that the parties initially find a way to have the equipment returned and place a cap on the amount in dispute.  This is not the end of the dispute, but it is better not to have container detention accruing while the dispute is being resolved. 

  • Cargo claims -  Cargo disputes are a complex mix of legal and factual issues.  Very often the rights of the parties are determined by an overlay of the terms of International conventions, the transport document and any other legal agreements.  From experience we know that documentation procedures are often not fully followed meaning that a liability position may not be as simple as first seemed.  

  • Liens – The exercise of a lien is never a decision taken lightly.  It is often an action of last resort due to the impact on the commercial relationship.  When taking such a significant step it is very important to be aware of your legal rights, particular if:

    • administrators have been appointed

    • the goods belong to a third party

    • the goods are the subject of registered personal property security interests

    • disputes exist regarding whether invoices are properly payable

  • Invoicing disputes – Transport operators have unique and sometimes, complex, invoicing.  The importation of the one container can involve destination port costs, international freight, original clearance costs, taxes, warehousing and domestic transport.  Some of these costs will be third party disbursements and others Government charges.  Methods of charging can vary from operator to operator.  This can lead to disputes over whether the right amount has been charged.  

  • Documents - Transport operators and freight forwarders have a variety of important commercial relationships.  Any important relationship warrants a written agreement.  We help with the drafting of the following:

    • Terms and conditions of trade

    • Transport documents

    • Warehouse and 3PL agreements

    • Service level agreements

    • Chain or responsibility clauses

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