Award 1235 – Rice in bags under B/L – Shortage and wet damage to cargo – Letter of undertaking by P&I Club – Insurer subrogated in the rights of the importer – Qualification as sea carrier and responsibility of the shipowner (yes).
A vessel having loaded in Thailand a cargo of rice in bags for Lomé (Togo) had to stay on roads 36 days before coming alongside for starting the discharging which was completed 67 days after berthing. Following the arrest of the vessel on account of cargo damages a letter of undertaking was issued by her P&I Club.
The subrogated insurers based their claim on two B/Ls issued without heading but mentioning the ship owner’s name. The latter, although producing a time C/P and a voyage C/P showing he was not the actual sea carrier, did not prove however the third party holder of the B/Ls and his insurers knew who the actual carrier was. Therefore the arbitrators followed the Cour de cassation case-law VOMAR allowing the B/L holder to proceed against the ship owner.
In accordance with the 1924 Brussels Convention the ship owner has been found responsible for the cargo damages but the arbitrators have limited his responsibility to those damages ascertained before discharging and applied a rebate of 30% for the mouldy bags in view of the abnormal discharging duration.