ITIC: Careless Errors Bring Costly Claims

Careless errors by ship agents are resulting in costly claims, according to indemnity insurer ITIC.

In the latest issue of its Claims Review, ITIC cites the case of a ship agent which incorrectly calculated two pro-forma invoices in respect of port dues, using the cheaper rate for a cargo of malt, rather than the rate for the cargo of wheat booked for discharge from two ships.

The wheat cargoes had been discharged, and the final invoices for port dues sent out, before the error was discovered.

The difference between the invoiced port dues and the correct port dues totalled Euros 14,000. But the owner refused to make up the shortfall because, relying on what it had been told, it had in turn charged the lower amount to the charterer. The claim was settled by ITIC.

Another case referenced by ITIC involved the submission by a port agent of all relevant cargo declarations in respect of a ship which had tendered notice of readiness in a Middle East port. These declarations included a document which the agent had translated into Arabic and English, and which described the cargo and the names of the consignees.

When the ship arrived, the only berth at which it could discharge was not available for a further ten days. The mistakes in the translation of the cargo declarations were subsequently noticed, resulting in a three-day delay in clearing the ship for berthing, which coincided with the last three days of the overall ten-day delay.

The owner claimed against the port agent for the full ten-day period of delay, arguing that the ship had not legally been able to berth due to the documentary error.

ITIC said it assisted the agent negotiate a settlement based on 50 per cent of the overall delay of USD 110,000, which ITIC paid.

 “Errors such as these put pressure on commercial relationships. Attention to detail is important,” ITIC said.

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