CIFFA Applauds FMC Look at Carrier Trucking and Delivery Arrangements – Carriers Taking Advantage
As advised in the eBulletin of April 26, the Federal Maritime Commission’s Bureau of Enforcement has initiated an expedited inquiry into claims that some ocean carriers are unilaterally changing service contract terms by cancelling the port/container yard to final customer destination leg of the cargo shipment. These cancellations are allegedly due to lack of inland truck availability.
Several members have brought to CIFFA’s attention similar actions by carriers on Canadian-destined goods, relying on the terms on the back of the bill of lading – the contract of carriage. In these instances, the carrier issued a through, express bill of lading, port / place of destination Montreal or Toronto. The cargo discharged New Jersey or New York. Purportedly due to lack of trucking and/or rail congestion, the carrier was unable to deliver the cargo as contracted to destination for several days and, in some cases, weeks. To add insult to injury, or one might say, to add cost to delay, the carrier charged storage to the cargo.
When questioned by CIFFA, one carrier justified its billing of this storage while in transit, referring to its bill of lading terms which, the carrier claimed, relieved it of all liability for stoppage or delay. The carrier also referred to its "Merchant" clause to justify billing the forwarding agent (cargo) for these charges incurred during the contracted carriage.
In light of the FMC’s investigation, members who have received these storage charges on through bills of lading – or who receive them in the future – are encouraged to challenge the carrier’s right to pass on charges incurred before delivery and while cargo was in the carrier’s care and custody.
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