International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has warned that the wording of instructions can potentially widen the scope of liability for marine service providers, citing the recent case of a marine surveyor sued for more than US$1.77 million for alleged poor onboard stowage of a cargo.
The marine surveyor in Germany was engaged by charterers to attend the loading of a cargo and to report any damage caused by the stevedores.
Emailed instructions from the charterer said: “We hereby order the following, [the] supervision of the loading/preloading survey, reporting of eventual damages to the coating or the material – and time of damage.
“[As well as the] reporting of negligence while handling the material and loading; detailed documentation, with photos, of the loading operations; no continuous supervision will be necessary, only during the important moments (commencement of loading operations – change of shift – securing of the cargo).”
Charlotte Kirk, Director of ITIC, said: “The potential difficulty with this defence was that the charterer’s email instructions could have been interpreted as conferring a wider obligation.
“In the circumstances, it was agreed that the surveyor would make a contribution of approximately ten per cent to the settlement of the claim.
“While this contribution was relatively modest in percentage terms, the claim is an example of how the wording of instructions can potentially widen the scope of a surveyor’s liabilities.
“If the brief is understood to be restricted to a specific task, it is important to make sure that this is clearly recorded.”